The all-party committee – following the Auditor General’s scathing report into the procurement of two CalMac ferries – found Brown’s answers to be “unsatisfactory and evasive”. His behaviour was also described as “disrespectful to both the committee and the Parliament”.
In 2015, he signed off the Ferguson yard at Port Glasgow as “preferred bidder” despite strong opposition from CMAL, the procurement quango which was the nominal client.
This cleared the way for Nicola Sturgeon to turn up at Port Glasgow, hard hat in air, for a high-profile announcement against very specific pleadings from CMAL which Ms Sturgeon claimed, in her evidence, not to have known about. The committee was so incredulous they asked to see the briefing provided to her. It has not yet arrived.
Between times, the Scottish Government provided an open-ended taxpayers’ guarantee to absolve CMAL of risk. So far that has cost the public purse £350 million while the islands await the ferries, six years late.
A forensic study of what transpired during these few days is crucial to identifying how this political stunt was engineered. The committee is doing its best. Ms Sturgeon and Mr Brown have no intention of telling them. Will the Parliament take any stance?
Meanwhile, the disrespectful, evasive Mr Brown is Scotland’s Justice Secretary. Irony knows no bounds.