Humza Yousaf has said he will consider what he can publish from a report examining allegations of fraud connected to the procurement process for two ferries.
It comes as both Scotland’s ferry procurement body, which commissioned the report, and the top lawyer undertaking it refused to provide key details about the probe.
Scottish Conservatives called on the SNP leader to publish the report, along with providing updates on its progress and for discussions to be “fully transparent”.
Barry Smith KC, an specialist in regulatory prosecutions, was commissioned by CMAL to examine allegations of fraud made by the BBC documentary ‘The Great Ferries Scandal’.
In it, it was alleged the contract for two ferries was awarded to Ferguson Marine, then owned by pro-independence businessman Jim McColl, following a “rigged” procurement process.
Mr Smith has been tasked with interviewing key individuals about their roles in the process, a task it is understood he has begun. However, when asked who was being interviewed, when the investigation would likely be completed, and whether it would be published, both CMAL and Mr Smith declined to comment.
Graham Simpson, the Scottish Tory transport spokesperson, said: “Even after the SNP Government admitted the ferries fiasco has been so badly botched that it would be cheaper to start again, there’s still a veil of secrecy over how the procurement process for the Glen Sannox and 802 was handled.
"There is supposed to be an investigation, but no one involved will comment, say how long it will take or even confirm that the result will be published.
“On an issue as serious as this, when hundreds of millions of pounds of public money have been squandered, the SNP must not be allowed to get away with their habitual secrecy and evasion. The framework, the progress and the results of this investigation into what went wrong must all be fully transparent.”
CMAL said it would not have any insight into the findings of the report until it is passed to them.
The First Minister was asked directly at Holyrood’s convener’s group committee meeting by Richard Leonard, convener of the public audit committee, whether he would commit to publishing the report, but failed to commit to do so.
Mr Yousaf said he took the allegations “very seriously” and committed to being “up front an transparent” on issues relating to Ferguson Marine.
He said: “I’m more than happy to go away and look at what can be published because I am absolutely committed to not just being transparent, but making sure Parliament is updated as soon as we possibly can in relation to any issues, let alone the ones that we are discussing in regards to Ferguson’s shipyard.
"We will stand up, take scrutiny on these matters of course. I just go back to the point that there are some areas and issues in relation to Ferguson’s, in particular, that are commercially sensitive that if we were going to release unredacted some reports it would put Ferguson’s at a competitive disadvantage.
"I’m happy to look at the request [and] take some advice on it.”