Whoops! Audit Scotland caused a sensation with its letter to pro-Forth tunnel campaigner John Carson stating that the body agreed with him that the Forth Bridge authority Feta (Forth Estuary Transport Authority) acted outwith its remit when it produced its 2005 study into the need for a new Forth bridge.

Which matters why? Because that study, which rubbished the various tunnel options, was the basis for Transport Scotland's subsequent desktop report recommending a £4.2 billion near-replica (in traffic terms) of the old bridge. This option renders unlikely a new trans-Forth high-speed rail connection for the next century, a decision Scotland looks likely to regret.

But Audit Scotland now says that it meant the exact opposite of what it said in its letter, ie that they did not disapprove of Feta for commissioning the study. The misunderstanding, it says, was caused by an Audit Scotland manager, who wrote: "The external auditor is of the view that this is not a reasonable basis for the work commissioned by Feta." What she really meant to write, apparently, was: "This is not an unreasonable basis for the work ..."

Agenda, which has no moral authority to condemn such careless mistakes, gives red-faced Audit Scotland the benefit of the doubt, John "cage fight" Carson does not. He believes that Audit Scotland was leaned on by Feta (who did indeed call them up on Thursday), and is demanding to see the files relating to his enquiry, a reasonable request in the circumstances.


HOW strange that Robert Crawford's position as chief executive of the South East England Development Agency should suddenly be seen, weeks after his appointment, as being in outrageous conflict with his chairmanship of east Glasgow's Clyde Gateway regeneration scheme.

Could it be that the "senior board member" said to have confided his fears about Crawford (left) - who happens to be the SNP candidate for the Westminster seat of North Ayrshire and Arran - is in fact a stooge for the flagging Scottish Labour leadership campaign of Andy Kerr, who is in dire need of things to be outraged by?

Non-political sources at Clyde Gateway say that the board of Scotland's biggest'ever regeneration project is keen not to lose Crawford's voluntary, three-day-a-month services.


If Sir Alan Sugar is too hairy for you, literally and metaphorically, we bring you news of The Hirer, an online reality TV show that gives contestants the chance to work for Sandra McClumpha, queen of the artificial suntanning-lotion empire Fake Bake. Due to appear on Cumbernauld-based online business television channel Moviecom next month, the show will see eight hopefuls compete on a range of business tasks.

Where Sir Alan offers the winner of each series £100,000 to work for him for a year, the Fake Bake hiree can expect "a competitive five-figure salary and comprehensive benefits package". Moviecom claims that 10,000 wannabes have already registered and that CVs and video pitches have been flooding in ahead of the August 22 deadline. Those who think their future could be orangey-brownish should head for thehirer.co.uk forthwith.