The Scottish Government has found the missing ferry documents just in time for a Holyrood debate on the whole ferry fiasco.
Transport minister Jenny Gilruth brandished the missing emails in the faces of her Conservatives opponents just moments after they had again lambasted the Scottish Government “cover up”.
They were found by civil servants last night and presented to ministers at 11.48am today ahead of the Conservative debate at 3pm.
The emails show that then-transport minister Derek Mackay did indeed sign off the contract on October 9, 2015, the day after receiving a warning from CMAL about not having a full refund guarantee, but it included “some improvements in the terms of the refund guarantees to be provided by the shipyard”.
CMAL said it was the best deal that could be negotiated with FMEL. CMAL was still concerned though “in respect of the position this could leave the company in the ship failed to perform or the shipyard went in to liquidation”.
The two civil servants involved in the email chain have since left the Scottish Government. There is a great line from one to the other “to confirm the absence of banana skins”.
This whole saga has be strewn with banana skins and whilst this appears to clear up some conspiracy theories about who signed off the deal and why, it does nothing to explain the cost overruns and delays; and that is what really matters to taxpayers and communities who rely on lifeline ferry services.
Hopefully the Public Audit Committee will get to the bottom of that – they will certainly have some tough questions for ministers both past and present.
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