Politics

John Swinney beneath stress in Cal Mac ferry fiasco as paperwork level to his involvement


John Swinney is beneath mounting stress to clarify his position within the Cal Mac ferry fiasco that has price taxpayers tens of millions of kilos.

The Deputy First Minister was revealed yesterday to have given final approval in 2015 to the disastrous deal to construct two new ferries on the Ferguson Marine shipyard.

Neither vessel has been completed virtually seven years later and the enterprise needed to be nationalised in 2019 after huge price overruns on the challenge compelled the yard into administration.

A key doc – beforehand thought misplaced – was lastly printed yesterday which confirmed that then transport minister Derek Mackay signed the contract with Fergusons in August 2015.

But civil service recommendation in an e-mail chain revealed the deal was solely given the go-ahead after Swinney may very well be personally briefed on the matter.

Douglas Ross at this time demanded the senior SNP minister make an announcement to parliament on the affair.



Deputy First Minister John Swinney has tested positive for covid
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has examined constructive for covid

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, the Tory chief revealed that unredacted paperwork confirmed the Scottish Government was warned of “significant procurement risks” when the Ferguson deal was signed off.

He stated: “They waited for the Deputy First Minister to give the green light – honest John’s hands are all over this dodgy deal”.

Ross requested Nicola Sturgeon how she may blame Mackay when it was Swinney who signed off the deal.

The SNP chief hit again: “It appears fairly apparent to anybody who’s trying – the Deputy First Minister didn’t take the choice.



The Ferguson Marine shipyard fiasco has plagued the Scottish Government
The Ferguson Marine shipyard fiasco has plagued the Scottish Government

“He wasn’t even copied in to the advice that was the basis of that decision.

“He was merely briefed on the choice after it was taken – not even at his request however on the initiative of an official.

“It is not unusual for finance secretaries to be briefed on the spending of money.

“It doesn’t imply the finance secretary has truly taken the choice.”

Ross insisted it was “very clear” that officials escalated the decision to the Deputy First Minister.

He continued: “This is the newest incompetence from this SNP Government.

“They published a series of responses which were heavily redacted – lines blacked out.

“Except they did such a poor at redacting the paperwork, should you copy and paste them into Microsoft Word, the knowledge is revealed.

“In one section of the redacted document, it warned of a risk of legal challenge to the contract.”

The Tory MSP added: “In other words, going ahead with this contract was such a bad idea it could open up the government to even more losses than they had already experienced.”

Speaking to reporters after FMQs, Swinney stated: “As finance secretary at the time, I’m responsible for providing the budget for the meeting of any contracts.

“What officers had been doing was briefing me that there was no want to alter the price range preparations based mostly on the contract that had been agreed and permitted by the transport portfolio, and which in fact is confirmed by the e-mail path you bought yesterday.”

Asked if he gave it the nod, the Deputy First Minister said: “What I gave was the budget approval, which I had given in August.

“And the price range approval I gave in August of 2015, the officers assured me on October 9 didn’t must be modified.

“The finance secretary does not approve all contracts, if that was the case there would be significant inefficiency in the processing of contracts within Government.”

Responding to a different query, he stated: “I didn’t give it the final nod.

“I used to be given assurance that the price range provision that I had put in place in August was ample for the contractual preparations.”

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