THE former owner of the last civilian shipyard on the Clyde has accused the Scottish Government of “appalling” behaviour in taking it over.

Tycoon Jim McColl told the Financial Times he was “absolutely furious” with SNP ministers for wresting control of Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow.

He said Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had created a “circus” when he stepped in last Friday and the Government had “effectively expropriated” the insolvent business.

In his first public comments on the move, he said: “I think it is appalling the way they have acted.”

READ MORE: SNP ministers nationalise Clyde shipyard

Mr McColl said the SNP had “begged” him to buy the yard it was faced closure on the eve of the independence referendum, then let him down when it needed cash five later on.

He  is now considering his position as one of Nicola Sturgeon’s economic advisers.

Mr Mackay has said public control of yard will safeguard 350 jobs and ensure the completion of two CalMac ferries which are behind schedule and over-budget at the site.

If administrators fail to find a buyer within a month, he said ministers would nationalise it.

He later admitted he did not know the final bill to taxpayers, as the gvoernment was still working on a "full cost analysis".

READ MORE: Derek Mackay admits ministers lack ‘full cost analysis’ despite promise to nationalise Clyde shipyard

Mr McColl’s Clyde Blowers empire bought Ferguson’s out of a previous administration in 2014, then landed a £97m order for two dual-fuel CalMac ferries.

The contract was blighted by design changes, delays and spiralling costs, with Mr McColl blaming the state-owned firm behind CalMac, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL).

CMAL said Ferguson’s had always known the fixed price contract would be challenging. 

Despite Mr Mackay lending Ferguson’s £45m a public money to keep it afloat in 2017 and 2018, Mr McColl accused the government of failed to act as the contract dispute with CMAL deteriorated over the last two years and the cost of the ferries effectively doubled.

He insisted the yard was in good shape and the government’s portrayal of it as requiring a turnround was tantamount to “abusing their power” and could deter outside bids. 

As part of taking control of Ferguson’s, the government culled the existing management and installed a “turnaround director” and new programme review board.

Mr McColl said: “There’s no turnround needed, there’s cash needed. There is a real danger they might put off potential buyers. This is a very attractive asset. It just feels wrong to have it effectively expropriated from you, when all we want is a fair price.”

Asked why Ferguson’s carried out design changes for CMAL it didn’t believe were covered by the agreed price, Mr McColl said disagreements were usually resolved at the end of the contract.

He said: “You have a bargaining chip in that you’ve got a finished ship and they have to agree with you. The government all along had led us to believe that we were working towards a point where we would have some sort of a settlement.” 

READ MORE: Call for review into state firm in £97m ferry contract fiasco

The Government said it had sought commercial solutions for Ferguson’s for  two years but there had been “serious concerns” about Mr McColl’s proposal for ministers to bear half the cost overrun in exchange for an equity stake as it could breach EU state aid rules

A spokesperson said Ferguson’s had been free to pursue their claim in court  at any point over the past two years” against CMAL, but did not.