DEREK Mackay has insisted the Scottish Government “acted in good faith” when it took over the last civilian shipyard on the Clyde after ferocious criticism from its former owner.

The Finance Secretary said his objective had been to save jobs at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow, give the yard a future, and ensure the completion of two Calmac ferries on site.

Mr Mackay announced last Friday that the Government was taking control of the business after it was driven into insolvency by years of problems on a £97m ferry contract.

If no commercial buyer is found within a month, the Government, which has already loaned Ferguson’s £45m to keep afloat, will nationalise the business to safeguard 350 jobs.

Mr Mackay conceded a commercial buyer appeared "pretty unlikely".

Ferguson’s was bought out of a previous administration by Jim McColl’s Clyde Blowers empire in 2014 after encouragement from the SNP.

It then landed a fixed-price design and build contract from Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), the state-owned firm behind CalMac, for two innovative dual-fuel ferries.

However the contract was blighted by design changes, delays and spiralling costs, with Mr McColl blaming CMAL for a 100 per cent cost overrun, and CMAL insisting Ferguson’s had always known the work would be technically challenging.

In his first public comments about last week’s intervention, Mr McColl told the Financial Times he was “absolutely furious” with the “circus” created by the Government.

“I think it is appalling the way they have acted,” he said, claiming ministers had “effectively expropriated” a business in which Clyde Blowers had invested £30m.

READ MORE: Derek Mackay accused of 'appalling' asset grab by ex-shipyard boss

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

Asked about Mr McColl’s comments, Mr Mackay said: “I think we have acted in good faith. I think we’ve acted in the national and the local interest on this issue.

“My objectives are clear - complete the vessels, save the jobs, give the yard a future.

“I do think that contrasts with Harland and Wolff, in Northern Ireland, where the yard has gone into administration and the UK government is not stepping in in any shape or form that I have seen, whereas the Scottish Government has been proactive in doing the right thing by the people of Scotland and people on Clydeside.”

Mr Mackay went on: “If a commercial bidder comes forward of course that would be considered by the administrators. I feel that that’s pretty unlikely. But in setting out how we achieve our objectives, if it takes public ownership to do that, then that’s what we’ll do.

“As it stands right now, if it wasn’t for the government’s actions today, I believe there would be no tomorrow for Ferguson’s, because of the position it was about to find itself in.”

Asked if Mr McColl was being ungrateful, given the £45m in loans to Ferguson, Mr Mackay said: “I’m not making any personal remarks at all about Jim McColl.

“My duties are to the people of Scotland, and as the Finance and Economy Secretary in the Scottish Government, I’ll act in the interest of the people of Scotland. I’ve set out my objectives and that’s what I’m all about and that’s what I’ll deliver.”

READ MORE: Scots face paying out millions to nationalise shipyard

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.