SHAMED former finance secretary Derek Mackay is among those who will be contacted as part of a probe into the debacle around the construction of two delayed and overbudget CalMac ferries.

He is one of a number of figures who held senior positions at key early stages in the botched award of contracts to the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow to be contacted as part of an inquiry to determine the flaws in the process.

Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee is investigating what has been dubbed "the ferries fiasco", which centres on the delays and ballooning costs of the construction of vessels 801 and 802 which are on track to be delivered five years late at more than double the original cost.

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Documents which were discovered by the Scottish Government appear to show Mackay, then transport minister, gave the green-light for the contracts to be awarded despite the warnings of Caledonia Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) civil servants.

They were concerned the builders, at the time owned by tycoon Jim McColl, were not offering a refund guarantee, which meant the state has had to foot the bill for delays.

Mackay will be asked to give written evidence, expected to be about why the contracts were awarded despite CMAL’s misgivings.

In the chain of emails produced by current transport minister Jenny Gilruth, the current Deputy First Minister John Swinney also appeared to have had a say in the award of the contracts, though he has played this down.

He told reporters in Holyrood last week he had only given “budget approval” for the project.

McColl will also be written to as will the former chief executive of Transport Scotland, David Middleton, the former director-general for Enterprise, Environment and Innovation, Scottish Government, Graeme Dickson.

The Greenock-based businessman was the head of Ferguson Marine when it collapsed into administration. The firm was then nationalised by the SNP government to ensure the yard stayed open.

Committee convenor Richard Leonard said: “Previously, we agreed to take evidence from relevant accountable officers who were in post when key decisions were made on vessels 801 and 802.

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“At next week’s meeting, we’ll hear from Scottish Government and Transport Scotland officials.

“Yesterday, the committee agreed to invite the current chief executive, Kevin Hobbs, and former chair of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, Erik Østergaard, as well as the former director and former chief executive officer of Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, Jim McColl and Gerry Marshall, to attend future evidence sessions.”

Mackay stepped down from government after it was revealed in 2020 he had sent hundreds of texts to a 16-year-old boy. 

He retired as an MSP at last year's Holyrood elections and now works as a consultant.