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by Louise Wilson
31 March 2022
Nicola Sturgeon defends £2m payout for former shipyard boss

Nicola Sturgeon defends £2m payout for former shipyard boss

The First Minister has defended the salary of the former turnaround director for the Ferguson Marine shipyard, which totalled almost £2m for two years.

Nicola Sturgeon insisted Tim Hair, who was appointed to the position when the shipyard was taken into public hands in 2019 but resigned at the end of last year, was given the “market rate”.

But raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar described the negotiated salary as “shocking and out of touch”.

He added: “Who is the First Minister kidding? I don’t hear any apology or any regret for paying this man £2m. Let’s not forget, that £2m was to turn around the yard, but the ferries still aren’t delivered, are costing more, and are delayed again.”

Data published earlier this month showed Hair billed the government £1.98m for 595 days of work between January 2020 and January 2022.

His successor, David Tydeman, negotiated an annual salary of £205,000, with a 40 per cent bonus.

Ferguson Marine went into administration in 2019 after discussions between yard bosses and CMAL, the government agency which tendered contracts for two new ferries, broke down.

The two vessels ordered by CMAL were meant to be delivered in 2017 but are now expected next year. The estimated price tag has more than doubled to £240m.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the deal has become a “disaster” after Scottish ministers waived the need for a full refund guarantee.

He said: “She dropped a vital safeguard, standard for these types of contracts, in order to cut a deal. Five years on, does the First Minister accept the risks were too high and this was a bad deal?”

The First Minister insisted steps were taken to mitigate the risks and added the problems now were “a matter of deep regret”.

But she said that, had the government not intervened, the Port Glasgow shipyard would not still be operational, and jobs would have been lost.

She added: “Our focus now is on ensuring these ferries are completed in the interest of our island communities, and also on ensuring that Ferguson’s shipyard and all those who work in it have a bright future. We will learn the lessons from this.”

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