NICOLA Sturgeon banned disgraced Renfrewshire MSP Derek Mackay from going out drinking during conferences due to concerns over his behaviour, it has been claimed.

Mr Mackay, who yesterday resigned from his role as Finance Secretary and was suspended from the SNP, even joked at the 2017 party conference that attendees would not be seeing him at the pub after the event as “Nicola won’t let me”.

A former senior staff member told our sister title The Herald the First Minister advised the MSP not to go out partying after his behaviour came up at senior staff meetings.

READ MORE: Derek Mackay resigns post after bombarding boy, 16, with messages

It comes after revelations Mr Mackay bombarded a schoolboy he befriended on Facebook and Instagram with hundreds of online messages over a six-month period – including one calling him “really cute”.

The messages, which were published in The Scottish Sun and sent shockwaves through Holyrood, continued even after the boy revealed he was still in school, and then later said he was 16.

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said Mr Mackay’s “grooming-style behaviour is completely disgraceful” and said it was hard to see how he can continue as an MSP.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Mr Mackay’s actions were “predatory and must be thoroughly investigated”, adding: “He has abused his position of power with a vulnerable adolescent.”

The Gazette: Scottish Conservatives interim leader Jackson Carlaw Scottish Conservatives interim leader Jackson Carlaw

Police Scotland said it had not received any complaint of criminality, but added: “We are currently assessing available information from media reporting and would encourage anyone with information to please come forward.”

Mr Mackay resigned as finance secretary on Wednesday night, on the eve of the £40 billion draft Scottish Budget.

READ MORE: Derek Mackay in line for £12,000 golden goodbye after sleaze resignation

Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs he had also been suspended from both the SNP and its parliamentary group “pending further investigation”.

Mr Mackay, a father-of-two who came out as gay in 2013, was once tipped as a future First Minister. But Ms Sturgeon said his behaviour fell “seriously below” the standards required of a minister.

She also said there are “clearly” issues for Mr Mackay to reflect on in terms of whether he continues as an MSP. Ms Sturgeon was met with a wall of television cameras and microphones as she left the Holyrood chamber following First Minister’s Questions.

Asked whether Mr Mackay should continue as an MSP, she said: “I am making my views very clear. He has issues to reflect on.”

Following Mr Mackay’s rapid downfall, public finance minister Kate Forbes, 29, a first-term parliamentarian, was forced to step up and set out the draft Scottish Budget with less than a day’s notice.

Mr Mackay accepted he had “behaved foolishly” as he apologised unreservedly to the boy and his family.

The Gazette: Kate Forbes stepped up in Mr Mackay's place yesterday Kate Forbes stepped up in Mr Mackay's place yesterday

In one message, he asked the teenager: “And our chats are between us?”

When the boy agreed, Mr Mackay told him: “Cool, then to be honest I think you are really cute.”

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