Ex-shipyard boss calls for inquiry into ferry scandal

A former director of Ferguson Marine, which collapsed into administration in August, is calling for a public inquiry.

A former director of Scotland’s last civilian shipyard is calling for a public inquiry to be held into the ferry scandal which almost caused its demise.

Discussing a deal to build two ships, which are now expected to cost twice as much and be subject to major delays, Jim McColl feels he has been “shafted” and said those involved should be “under oath” when discussing the matter.

Ferguson Marine collapsed into administration in August, before being taken over by Scottish ministers.

In December, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the new ships would be double the initial cost and would take longer.

Mackay said mismanagement by yard bosses was at the heart of the overspend and delays – claims rejected by Mr McColl as “defamatory” and “nonsense”.

Giving evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Wednesday, Mr McColl said: “There’s a huge amount to go into here.

“The reason that I would like it to go to a public inquiry is I would like there to be a judge and I would like people to be under oath.”

During the committee hearing, Mr McColl also accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of announcing the contract publicly before a price had been agreed.

Ferguson Marine was initially pushing for £105m for both ships, however McColl said Sturgeon made the award public before the final price was agreed – saying they would cost around £97m.

When asked by Conservative MSP Jamie Greene about where the price for the ferries came from, he said: “We were at £105m, in negotiations with CMAL and they were trying to get us to £97m.

“CMAL then came back to us and said ‘it’s been announced by the First Minister, you’ll just have to accept it’.”

Mr McColl also dismissed claims made by Tim Hair, who was appointed by the Scottish Government last year as the turnaround director for the yard, that internal processes “have generally been found to be poor or non-existent”, as “absolutely scandalous.”