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Why Derek Mackay could appear at Holyrood inquiry two years after quitting in disgrace

Derek Mackay.
Disgraced ex-minister Derek Mackay.

Former SNP finance chief Derek Mackay could make a shock return to Holyrood to appear at an inquiry two years after he quit over sending inappropriate texts to a 16-year-old boy.

The disgraced ex-minister broke his silence as he said he would be willing to set the record straight over his involvement in the ferry fiasco.

Mr Mackay was transport minister when a deal was agreed with Ferguson’s to build two new vessels at their shipyard in Port Glasgow.

The boats, intended to serve Scotland’s island communities, were originally scheduled for completion in 2018.

But building work is not yet finished four years on with a warning rural Scots are being left without vital lifeline ferries.

Allies of Mr Mackay claim he has been “victimised” by the current government who said he was responsible for signing off the agreement with Ferguson’s.

‘I am willing to co-operate’

The former MSP told The Times: “I am willing to co-operate with a parliamentary committee and do my best to answer any questions they may have.

“To do so as comprehensively as possible I will seek access to the necessary papers and information that I am entitled to as a former government minister.”

Both the Tories and Labour have demanded Mr Mackay appears at any inquiry into the scandal.

Former Ferguson’s boss Jim McColl, who previously backed independence, claimed the SNP pushed through the deal for “political capital”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Jim McColl.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Jim McColl.

He alleged that the contract was rushed in advance of the SNP’s party conference, but Nicola Sturgeon has denied this and insists everything was done above board.

The SNP nationalised Ferguson’s in 2019, but it emerged recently there would be further delays as the vessels continue to be built.

An Audit Scotland report revealed there had been a “multitude of failings” during the project.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: “We welcome Derek Mackay offering to give evidence.”

Conservatives MSP Graham Simpson said: “The SNP are trying to blame Derek Mackay so I am not surprised that he wants to come forward and speak to a committee.”

In February it was revealed that Derek Mackay had launched his own consultancy firm.

He had once been touted as a potential future first minister before it emerged he had pestered a teenage boy with texts and called him “cute”.

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