Nicola Sturgeon has to answer committee questions on ferries, as demanded by Liberia Democrats, as Derek Mackay was to appear

The Scottish government has awarded a contract for two ferries to be built by Ferguson Marine at a cost of £97m. However, both ships are now more than five years behind and more than £150m in budget.

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Ministers were pressured to explain why they decided to go ahead with the contract despite the lack of a full refund guarantee to the builder, a standard shipbuilding clause that would have resulted in the yard, not the taxpayer, picking up the bill for any overspending or delays.

Derek Mackay, the transportation secretary at the time, is due to give evidence to the Public Audit Committee in September after mobile services aides return from vacation.

However, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said that senior ministers at the time, including the first minister, must also provide evidence because of their involvement.

Rainey, the party’s economics spokesman, wrote to Richard Leonard, the committee’s convenor, asking him to invite Sturgeon, Sweeney, and Brown.

Correspondence showed that all three were involved, with the SNP leader declaring Ferguson Marine the preferred bidder for the contracts.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon must provide evidence of the ferry failure.

Rainey said: “It is right that Derek Mackay appears before Parliament, but he was not the only member of Cabinet Nicola Sturgeon co-signing this multi-million pound call.

“The public has heard from transport officials and shipyard representatives that John Sweeney, Keith Brown and Nicola Sturgeon herself were all involved in the decision to acquire Ferguson Marine and provide it with extensive financial support. They should join Derek MacKay in presenting evidence to Parliament.

“The government has badly disappointed the island communities and they have waited so long for answers. These communities depend on the success of ferry contracts like this. However, the SNP has done almost nothing to prove that they understand this.

“It’s laughable that the SNP talk about running an independent country when they can’t even move people from A to B.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Invitations to parliamentary committees are a matter for individual committees, not government.”

The first episode of the new limited podcast, How to Be an Independent Country: Scotland’s Choices, is now out.

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