DEREK Mackay has been asked to appear in person before a committee investigating the so-called ferries fiasco.

The former Finance Secretary has been invited to give evidence at Holyrood’s Public Audit committee in their ongoing probe into what went wrong with the procurement and construction of two ferries at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow.

Richard Leonard, the Labour chair of the committee, said: “Yesterday we agreed to invite Derek Mackay, former Minister for Transport & Islands and David Middleton, former Chief Executive of Transport Scotland to give oral evidence. 

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“This will allow us to follow up on issues in their written evidence to further inform our scrutiny of the Auditor General’s report New vessels for the Clyde and Hebrides. We look forward to hearing from them after the parliamentary summer recess.”

The two vessels remain unbuilt and are now four years late while being more than two and a half times over budget with the taxpayer footing the bill for delays and ballooning costs.

The invitation comes after the former SNP MSP, who resigned in disgrace when he was revealed to have bombarded a schoolboy with inappropriate messages, submitted evidence to the committee in writing.

In a rare public intervention, Mackay wrote to the committee to justify awarding the contract to Jim McColl’s Ferguson Marine, apparently overruling the grave concerns of senior civil servants who were concerned the firm was not offering the customary refund guarantee.

The lack of guarantee has resulted in the state being responsible for the costs of the project.

McColl, who was in charge of the embattled yard when it collapsed into administration, previously gave evidence to the committee.