Scotland ferries scandal: Committee writes to Nicola Sturgeon asking for Ferguson Marine documents

A Holyrood committee has written to Nicola Sturgeon seeking specific documents around the procurement of the overdue Ferguson Marine ferries.

The convener of the public audit committee also set out his “disappointment” at the level of detail he received in a submission from Cabinet secretary Keith Brown.

The First Minister spoke to the committee in person for nearly two hours on Friday last week as it investigated issues around the Glen Sannox and the as-yet-unnamed hull 802.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence to MSPs on Holyrood's Audit Committee at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, as part of an inquiry into contracts for two lifeline ferries which are delayed and overbudget. Picture: PA
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Committee convener Richard Leonard also expressed his displeasure the substantive part of Mr Brown’s submission amounted to only 150 words.

In his latest letter to the First Minister, Mr Leonard asks for documents and information around eight specific points.

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One of these is a briefing prepared for Ms Sturgeon ahead of the announcement of Ferguson Marine as preferred bidder on August 31, 2015. The First Minister visited the Port Glasgow yard on this date.

It is also seeking minutes or notes of a meeting with the former owner of Ferguson Marine Jim McColl on May 31, 2017. In his letter to Mr Brown, Mr Leonard said the justice secretary’s submission lacked detail about information which then transport secretary Derek Mackay may have shared with him in 2015.

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Mr Leonard said: “The committee asks you to revisit the first question in our original correspondence to you and provide a response to the specific question that was asked. In more general terms, we wish to express our disappointment that the content of your letter does not provide the level of detail we would have expected, to assist our scrutiny of the Auditor General’s report.”

Mr Leonard also wrote to Auditor General Stephen Boyle asking for a response to a letter from the ferry-owning company CMAL alleging he was mistaken in an earlier submission.

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Ms Sturgeon has been accused by committee member and Scottish Conservative MSP Craig Hoy of breaking the ministerial code if she is unable to produce minutes of the key meeting between her and Mr McColl, whose company Clyde Blowers owned Ferguson Marine at the time.

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