Scots Government agrees £200k contract with firm to advise on ferries debacle

The Scottish Government is to shell out another £200,000 to help sort out the Ferguson Marine ferries debacle.

Ministers will pay KPMG a six figure sum after construction of the two vessels was derailed by a bitter dispute.

Scottish Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “The Scottish Government’s ferry fiasco continues with the cost to the taxpayer spiralling even further out of control.

“With the cost of the contract now double the original price and the ships still not part of the fleet, serious questions need to be asked about the Scottish Government’s woeful handling of this project.

Jim McColl’s Ferguson Marine then secured a £97m contract from the Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd to build two lifeline ferries (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

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“We could be building twice as many ferries as we are had this not been badly mismanaged.”

Talks between former First Minister Alex Salmond and tycoon Jim McColl in 2014 led to the businessman saving the civilian shipyard on the Clyde.

McColl’s Ferguson Marine then secured a £97m contract from the Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd to build two lifeline ferries.

However, a row over money jeopardised the project and Ferguson Marine went into administration.

After three commercial offers for the business were rejected, the Government took the shipyard into public ownership.

A Government loan was written off and it has been claimed another £100m could be added to the £97m bill to complete construction.

It has now emerged that the Government is going back to the private sector for commercial advice.

The KPMG “consultancy” contract, which runs until March, could be worth around £20,000 a month.

It is unclear when the ferries will be finished and ready for use.

The fiasco triggered a war of words between the Government and McColl, who continues to advise Ministers on the economy.

The businessman claimed the firm had been “effectively expropriated”, while the Government pointed the finger at Ferguson Marine.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This professional advice is important in supporting the Scottish Government in making sound commercial decisions about the continuing operation of Ferguson Marine, an industrial business now in public ownership. 

“This contract continues to provide us access to commercial advice as we look to securing a sustainable future for the business.”

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