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by Louise Wilson
27 September 2022
Auditor general to investigate claims of ‘special treatment’ for Ferguson Marine

Auditor general to investigate claims of ‘special treatment’ for Ferguson Marine

The auditor general for Scotland will look into claims that Ferguson Marine shipyard was given “special treatment” during the tendering process for two new ferries.

BBC Disclosure uncovered evidence the shipyard benefited from a 424-page document about CMAL’s technical requirements which was not handed to any other bidder, while CMAL assessors also held a confidential meeting with Fergusons.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said ministers were “not aware of any impropriety in the procurement process”.

However, accepting the findings were “concerning”, he confirmed the government’s permanent secretary – the most senior civil servant – had been in touch with the auditor general about the matter.

Audit Scotland will look at the substance of the claims in the documents before deciding if further audit work is required.

“The Scottish Government, CMAL and Fergusons all commit to fully supporting that exercise,” Swinney said.

The revelations are the latest in the long-running debacle over the ferries, which are over five years late and set to cost more than double original predictions.

Tory transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the actions “might have broken laws” and therefore leave the Scottish Government open to legal action.

He added: “It looks like corporate corruption and the fact we're only finding out now means it has been a cover-up as well.”

A statement from CMAL, the public body which bought the ferries, said its board was only made aware of the allegations after approach by BBC journalists earlier this month.

It said that initial searches had “found no evidence in our files to support the allegations”.

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