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by Staff reporter
16 May 2022
Douglas Ross piles pressure on John Swinney over ferries row

Douglas Ross attends First Minister's Questions. Pic: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Douglas Ross piles pressure on John Swinney over ferries row

Tory leader to push Deputy First Minister for answers

Douglas Ross is to step up pressure on Deputy First Minister John Swinney over the ferries row by calling on him to tell parliament why he approved the contract.

Two vessels ordered from Port Glasgow yard Ferguson Marine are over-budget at £250m and five years behind schedule.

An internal government document produced by transport minister Jenny Gilruth stated that former post-holder Derek Mackay had "cleared the proposal" to give the contract to the Clydeside boatbuilder, and that Swinney had been told about the move. It stated that "the way is clear to award".

Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has now submitted a bid to make Swinney to explain in the chamber his reasons for greenlighting the deal.

A topical question which Ross hopes will be selected by the Presiding Officer tomorrow asks the Scottish Government why Swinney "ignored" advice and "approved the awarding of the contract for building new ferries for use on the Skye and Arran routes to Ferguson Marine".

It further asks "whether the Scottish Government will agree to a public inquiry into the contract".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Swinney had no role in the awarding of the contract.

At FMQs last week, she said Swinney "did not take the decision" and had been briefed afterwards in his capacity of finance secretary - something she said was "not unusual".

However, Ross said: "There remain so many unanswered questions in this whole sorry scandal."

He went on: "After all the evasion and obstruction by the Scottish Government, it's time for the Deputy First Minister to answer the simple but central question - why?"

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