NICOLA STURGEON says she takes full responsibility for the failures surrounding the construction of two ferries at a nationalised shipyard.

The First Minister said that while then-transport minister Derek Mackay was primarily responsible for awarding a contract to Ferguson Marine to build two ferries, the Scottish Government operated on a principle of “collective responsibility” and said the “buck stops” with her.

An Audit Scotland report last week found numerous “serious failings” about how the Scottish Government chose to procure the two ferries – awarding contracts to the Port Glasgow shipyard which was later nationalised.

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Building Vessels 801 and 802 has seen the Scottish Government spend at least £240 million – around two and a half times the price estimated when the process began in 2015.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross accused Sturgeon of placing the blame on the disgraced former minister.

He said the episode was one of the “worst public spending disasters since devolution” and described the decision to award the contract as an “absolute shocker”.

The First Minister rejected accusations that the “SNP’s secret Scotland” had led to their being insufficient evidence for a thorough examination of the decision to award Ferguson Marine the contracts.

She said: “[Ross] has not spent much time reading the hundreds of pages of documents that are in the public domain.

“There is one issue where Audit Scotland refers to a lack of documentation – I think that is a matter the Government has to reflect on seriously and will.

“But there are hundreds of pages of documents and they would bear some attention from Douglas Ross.”

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The situation with the ferries – which are currently four years late – is “deeply regrettable” said Sturgeon, but she added the Government’s priorities have been to “secure employment, to secure the shipyard and to get these ferries completed”.

Ross called for a full public inquiry into the procurement and construction of the ferries but the First Minister said a committee had examined the issue as well as Audit Scotland. 

He raised Audit Scotland's concerns about awarding the contract to Ferguson Marine despite Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd's concerns about the company. 

Sturgeon said the decision was taken on the "balance of risk" and insisted the firm's higher price - it was the most expensive bidder for the contract - would ensure higher quality. 

The spending watchdog had also recommended a "full review" of "what went wrong" on the completion of the ferries, which Sturgeon said the Scottish Government "will consider".