Douglas Ross tells Nicola Sturgeon there is a 'stench of political corruption' on ferries scandal
There is a "stench of political corruption" around the Scottish Government and the ferries row, Douglas Ross claims.
The Scottish Conservative leader pressed Nicola Sturgeon over fresh revelations about delays and cost overruns at Ferguson Marine, the Inverclyde yard at the centre of a long-running procurement scandal.
This week the BBC reported that the Port Glasgow operation may have received preferential treatment in the bidding process.
Meanwhile, one of the hulls faces further delays and cost increases of £84m.
Ross said Fergusons had been given a "cheat sheet they literally copied page after page after page from", unlike other bidders.
At First Minister's Questions, he told the Scottish Parliament: "The only reasonable conclusion any reasonable person can draw is that the deal was rigged."
The FM said ministers are "not aware of any impropriety in this procurement process" and were "not involved" in that process. They also had no sight of documents or exchanges between CMAL and bidders, MSPs heard.
However, she said the claims are "serious" and welcomed confirmation from Audit Scotland that they will be examined. She stated: "As I understand it, there was no suggestion at all that it was CMAL who passed that document to Fergusons; in fact I think the BBC suggested that was the design consultants. Yes, these are serious allegations, they should be investigated in the normal way and in the meantime we will continue to support Ferguson Marine to complete the ferry contract."
Ross said: "It appears as if the government has broken EU rules and it may have committed fraud. But the first minister thinks this is no big deal - just another SNP disaster no one should pay attention to; there is nothing to see here. But this does matter.
"It matters to the islanders who have been abandoned by this government and it matters because the price and the delays keep spiraling further."
Saying there is a "stench of political corruption", Ross asked when Sturgeon will "start to take the blame." She said she will "never apologise" for actions taken to protect the shipyard and jobs there.