THE owner of BiFab was “shocked” and “incredibly disappointed” when Scottish Government ministers refused it further financial support, MSPs have been told.

Canada-based DF Barnes bought the Scots business two years ago but said it was “not an investable company at the time” and it was understood the Scottish Government would be the “primary financiers”.

The purchase came after BiFab, which has yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife and another on Lewis, had to be rescued by the Scottish Government in 2017.

DF Barnes president Jason Fudge said the firm had been preparing to put up to 500 employees back to work on a contract for turbine jackets for the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm project when it emerged ministers could no longer provide the necessary financial support.

Appearing before Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee, he said that the Scottish Government told the company in September that it could not provide further financial support because doing so would breach European state aid rules.

He said the NnG contract was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic when “the financing was withdrawn and the assurance and guarantees were withdrawn”.

Fudge added: “We were advised that Scottish ministers would provide no further financial support for BiFab, which was incredibly shocking for us. We had very little if any advance warning and we were about to put 400 or 500 people back to work in Fife. It was pretty disappointing.”

DF Barnes vice-president Sean Power told MSPs: “In the discussions with the Government at the time, it was always understood we would come in and try to restore the company but we wouldn’t be providing a lot of cash. The Scottish Government understood that and thought that they would be the primary financiers.”

Hazel Nolan, of the GMB trade union, has called for legal advice the Scottish Government received on that decision to be released.

She said the union understands the Scottish Government had “made clear” it would provide a guarantee for the NnG contract work, before ministers went on to “pull” this.

Nolan said: “Our understanding is that the guarantee was made clear from the Scottish Government.

“So why did it take so long and why did the Scottish Government pull it at the very last minute?”

She added: “What we have been told by [Economy] Minister Fiona Hyslop is that the only way we will be given the legal advice that was provided to the Scottish Government is if there were to be a judicial review.”