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Derek Mackay asked to give evidence to MSPs in ferries probe

Derek Mackay will be asked to give evidence into the ferries contract (Jane Barlow/PA)
Derek Mackay will be asked to give evidence into the ferries contract (Jane Barlow/PA)

Former transport minister Derek Mackay has been asked to provide written evidence on his involvement in the ferries fiasco.

Mr Mackay held the transport brief at the time the contract was approved for Ferguson Marine to build two ferries.

He resigned from the Cabinet in 2020 after it emerged he had sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old school boy, and he stepped down as an MSP at the end of the parliamentary term in 2021.

The ferries issue has created a political storm in recent weeks as the promised vessels are set to be delivered five years late, having originally been due for completion in 2018.

Glen Sannox
The two vessels are much-delayed and over budget (PA)

They are also running two-and-a-half times over budget, with the bill now expected to total £240 million.

The Scottish Government says a key document shows Mr Mackay was the minister who signed off on the ferries contract offer in 2015.

The Government had received a backlash over transparency after it was revealed the document in question was “missing”, though current transport minister Jenny Gilruth announced last week that it had been found and said it outlined the key decision-making information.

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee is set to probe the issue from next week and has called on Scottish Government and Transport Scotland officials to provide evidence.

Committee convener Richard Leonard said: “Previously we agreed to take evidence from relevant accountable officers who were in post when key decision were made on vessels 801 and 802.

“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 Caledonia Maritime Assets Limited, Erik Ostergaard, 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.”

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