NICOLA Sturgeon has said it is “regrettable” a key decision around the contract for the Ferguson Marine ferries was not recorded properly.

She said the Scottish Government will learn any lessons it needs to about record-keeping, and she is willing to appear before a Holyrood committee to discuss the issue.

It comes after auditor general Stephen Boyle expressed frustration that he was not able to review all documents relating to the awarding of the contract, though he said he did not believe the Government was withholding the information.

In the years since the contract was awarded, the yard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, has been saved from administration by the Scottish Government, and the estimated delivery of the vessels has been pushed back by five years, along with an increase in costs from £97 million to at least £250m.

The two vessels, Glen Sannox and the as-yet-unnamed hull 802, are now expected to be completed in 2023. There has been scrutiny around why the contract was given to Ferguson Marine without a full refund guarantee. The First Minister was asked about the situation at the launch of the SNP local election manifesto in Greenock, near Port Glasgow. She said: “There’s clearly a key point of decision-making that has not been recorded in the way it should have been. That is regrettable but there is no cover-up around this.”

Sturgeon said she had not seen the auditor general’s session but she does not believe he had accused the Government of withholding evidence.

The First Minister continued: “That is regrettable, I’m not trying to diminish the importance of that.

“But anybody can go on to the Scottish Government website and see the sheer quantum of paperwork and recording of decisions around this issue.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said “We need answers as to why the SNP government did not follow protocol properly and record these decisions.