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by Joseph Anderson
28 April 2022
Sturgeon's government accused of

The 100-tonne block lift of the bow unit to be connected onto Hull 802, which is the largest single unit added to the ferry’s steel hull, takes place in the Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) shipyard, in Port Glasgow

Sturgeon's government accused of "withholding" key ferries documents

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of “withholding” key documents relating to the CalMac ferries fiasco.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross asked Sturgeon about the missing documents, after Scotland's Auditor General expressed frustration at not being able to review all of the evidence pertaining to the awarding of the ferries contract to Ferguson Marine.

A recent report from Audit Scotland found there was “insufficient documentary evidence” to explain why the contract was given without a full refund guarantee.

The contract to build two ferries, destined to serve Scotland’s islands communities, was awarded despite concerns raised by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), the state-owned ferry procurement company, after Scottish Ministers found there was “mitigation” for CMAL’s concerns.

However, the documents which detail how this decision was reached have been lost by the Scottish Government.

Ross said: “A few weeks ago, the First Minister was telling us a big boy did it and then ran away, now the dog has eaten all her homework.

“First Minister, these excuses would not cut it in a primary school classroom. So do you really expect anyone to believe this? And will you tell us, where has that document gone?”

Sturgeon said there are already more than 200 documents relating to the decisions in the public domain, and said there is “no evidence” the missing document has been withheld.

Sturgeon said: “There is one piece of this, which is the formal record of the decision to proceed with the final contract award, and that is absolutely a key decision.

“But there are two further points that are important to make.

“Firstly, there is no evidence that this has been withheld. In fact, let me quote with Auditor General at a committee last week: ‘Our judgement is not that evidence has been withheld from us during the course of our audit work, but rather that an important piece of documentary evidence was not prepared in relation to the judgement’.

“Secondly, what is missing is a note confirming that ministers have considered the issues and the risks and have decided to proceed. However, that is nevertheless clear in all of the surrounding documentation.”

The First Minister then detailed a letter from Transport Scotland on 9 October 2015, which read: “Scottish Ministers have also seen and understood the CMAL risk paper and have noted and accepted the various technical and commercial risks identified and assessed by CMAL, and have indicated they are content for CMAL to proceed with the awarding of the contract.”

Sturgeon added: “The ministers’ decision is actually narrated in the letter of Transport Scotland’s advice, so there is there is one link in the chain that is missing, but you can still very clearly follow the chain of events.”

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