Derek Mackay called to answer MSPs' questions over ferries fiasco 

The former transport minister has been asked to give evidence over the awarding of a ferries contract to Ferguson Marine.

Derek Mackay called to answer MSPs’ questions over ferries fiasco  Getty Images
Derek Mackay was transport minister when the contract for two new ferries to Ferguson Marine was signed off by the Scottish Government.

Former transport minister Derek Mackay has been asked to provide answers to MSPs over his role in the ferries fiasco.

Mackay has not been seen at the Scottish Parliament since his resignation in February 2020, having quit after it was reported that he sent inappropriate messages to a teenage boy.

The former MSP was transport minister in 2015 at the time that a contract to Ferguson Marine for two new ferries was awarded.

They were due to be completed in 2018, but will now not enter service until at least 2023.

It has also run significantly over its initial expected cost, with the bill now anticipated to have totalled around £240m.

Last month, Mackay indicated that he would be milling to answer questions from MSPs over the contract being awarded.

The issue has been repeatedly raised at the Scottish Parliament during FMQs.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously made clear that it was Mackay who signed off on the deal, though told the Scottish Parliament that the “buck stops with me“.

And just last week, a missing document which detailed decision-making around the award was located by the Scottish Government – just as the issue was being debated at Holyrood.

Next week, the Parliament’s Public Audit Committee is set to hear evidence from Scottish Government and Transport Scotland officials.

Meanwhile, businessman Jim McColl is also amongst key figures in the deal to be asked to appear before MSPs.

Committee convener Richard Leonard said that MSPs have now written to Mackay to ask him to provide a written response to their questions.

They will then decide “next steps” when that evidence has been received and considered, Leonard explained.

“Previously, we agreed to take evidence from relevant accountable officers who were in post when key decisions were made on vessels 801 and 802,” he said.

“At next week’s meeting, we’ll hear from Scottish Government and Transport Scotland officials.

“Yesterday, the committee agreed to invite the current chief executive, Kevin Hobbs, and former chair of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, Erik Østergaard, as well as the former director and former chief executive officer of Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited, Jim McColl and Gerry Marshall, to attend future evidence sessions.

“We also agreed to write to the former chief executive of Transport Scotland, David Middleton, the former director-general for Enterprise, Environment and Innovation, Scottish Government, Graeme Dickson, and the former minister for transport and islands, Derek Mackay, who will be asked to provide written evidence in response to our questions.

“Once we have received and considered this evidence, we will decide our next steps.”