Missing ferries contract document found, Scottish Government reveals

It shows that the decision was taken by then transport minister Derek Mackay.

Missing Ferguson Marine CalMac ferries contract document located by Scottish Government STV News
Jenny Gilruth confirmed that the missing document has been located.

A missing document detailing decision-making in the awarding of a contract for two new ferries to Ferguson Marine has been located by the Scottish Government.

It shows that the decision was taken by then transport minister Derek Mackay, the current minister in charge announced.

Opposition parties had called for the document to be published as the war of words over the fiasco – with the contract significantly overdue and overbudget.

On Wednesday, the Government published the document, with transport minister Jenny Gilruth making the announcement at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

The document was found in a copy of an email chain kept by someone in the Government’s finance department.

The document shows an email chain between Derek Mackay and officials. (Scottish Government) Scottish Government website
The document shows an email chain between Derek Mackay and officials. (Scottish Government)

The announcement was made during a debate on the issue being led by the Scottish Conservatives.

Gilruth said that ministers were advised by officials of the document being located shortly before noon on Wednesday.

“The email makes clear who approved the decision to award the contract to build vessels 801 and 802 to Ferguson’s shipyard,” said Gilruth.

“It shows that the decision was rightly and properly taken by then transport minister Derek Mackay.

“We said we would continue to look for the document and that is exactly what we have done.

“It was found because a copy of an email chain had been retained by someone in Scottish Government Finance because the then finance secretary was briefed on the decision.

“By chance, a copy of that email chain – between two officials who left the government some years ago – includes the email from the transport minister’s Private Office and was located in someone’s electronic files.”

However, Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said that revealing an email in support of what he suggested is an operation to blame Mackay for the fiasco is “not going to cut it”.

“I hate to break it to Jenny Gilruth but the ‘missing document’ she claims to have discovered is nothing of the sort,” he said.

“We already know ministerial approval was given to award the contract to Ferguson Marine. We can gather that from the fact that the yard is – very slowly and very expensively – building the two vessels.

“The missing document we and the Scottish public are seeking is one that tells us why the SNP awarded it to Ferguson, given they were expressly advised not to.

“Simply revealing another email in support of the SNP’s desperate ‘Operation Blame Derek Mackay’ is not going to cut it.

“However much Jenny Gilruth pleads with us, we won’t ‘give up’ on this until SNP ministers answer a simple question: Why?”

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Neil Bibby accused the SNP of being in a “quagmire of spin and cover up”.

“At last the long-awaited ‘lost’ documents have been miraculously found – but these emails raise more questions than they answer,” he said.

“It is a disgrace that this document was not given to Audit Scotland originally. It begs the question what other information has been kept from them and the public.

“We still don’t have a shred of information about why this decision was made, and now these documents show that it was cleared by John Swinney. There are serious questions now for the deputy First Minister.

“We can see here that multiple Ministers agreed to plough ahead with this dodgy deal, wasting millions of pounds of taxpayer cash on a contract that the experts warned them against – but we still don’t know why.

“The SNP are in a quagmire of spin and cover up here. We still need real answers for the taxpayers, islanders and shipyard workers who have all been so badly let down.”