SNP ministers urged to ‘renounce’ gagging orders on shipbuilding bosses amid privacy concerns over ferry scandal

SNP ministers have been urged to ‘renounce’ gagging orders imposed on shipbuilding bosses amid growing concerns over secrecy over the Scottish ferry fiasco.

Former Ferguson Marine owner Jim McColl yesterday called on Nicola Sturgeon to lift non-disclosure agreements that prevent former managers from speaking out.

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Several Ferguson Marine Engineering officials were forced to sign the gagging orders when the company collapsedCredit: Getty
Former Ferguson Marine owner Jim McColl yesterday called on Nicola Sturgeon to lift non-disclosure agreements

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Former Ferguson Marine owner Jim McColl yesterday called on Nicola Sturgeon to lift non-disclosure agreementsCredit: Alamy

Auditor General Stephen Boyle said he was unable to speak with a number of people involved in the initial contract process for two new ferries.

Serious concerns have been raised about the lack of documentation as to why the deal was allowed to go ahead without proper procedure.

And now the government is facing demands to remove NDAs to allow those involved to shed light on the situation.

Several Ferguson Marine Engineering officials were forced to sign the gagging orders when the company collapsed and then was nationalized.

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Port Glasgow shipyard had been awarded the CalMac contract for the ferries – but costs have now soared to at least £240million and no ships have been delivered.

Mr Boyle has led an investigation into the Audit Scotland fiasco, raising serious concerns about the way it was handled.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr McColl said: ‘It is appalling that former leaders are being gagged with taxpayers’ money and prevented from giving evidence to the Auditor General when he investigates.’

He said all gagging orders were ‘signed at the request of the Scottish Government and he can waive them at any time’, insisting it had been done before.

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Mr McColl said the NDAs had been ‘imposed’ on staff, insisting they were ‘just another part of a Scottish Government process to remove what was wrong with the yard’.

The intervention comes amid an increasingly secretive row over the ferry contract with Ms Sturgeon forced to deny a ‘cover-up’.

Officials confirmed they couldn’t find documents showing who signed the final contract – and rescinded the guidelines.

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Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “If Nicola Sturgeon really has nothing to hide about this disaster, then her government should immediately drop any gagging orders currently in place, to allow former managers of Ferguson to reveal himself about the events. at the shipyard.

Last night a Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Government has fully supported Audit Scotland as it conducts its investigation.

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