ONE of Scotland's top legal minds has dismissed the Scottish Government's claim that they have to walk away from supporting state-owned renewables manufacturer Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) because of state aid rules.

Unions are taking part in emergency meeting on Thursday with economy secretary Fiona Hyslop and Canadian owners DF Barnes to try and prevent the company's collapse.

The moves comes after the Herald on Sunday revealed that ministers stand to lose up to £52.4m of taxpayers money after refusing to carry on backing BiFab which is now believed to be on the brink of financial collapse.

Ministers last year signed off on what was a secret £30m guarantee to support BiFab last year before doing a U-turn after the failure of an important contract, leaving fears that the company faces liquidation.

It is understood ministers decided to do a U-turn after new legal advice felt that providing key support for the ailing company at the centre of a wind farm jobs row would be seen as illegal state aid under European Union regulations.

READ MORE: Revealed -  Up to £52.4m taxpayers money set to be lost as BiFab faces collapse

The ministers' intial support came by way of a commitment to effectively underwrite a contract to have a part in the the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm project in the Firth of Forth to the tune of £30m.

But unions have commissioned legal opinion from Lord Davidson QC, the former Advocate General for Scotland who has indicated that ministers did not have to take the action it has taken under state aid rules.

Joint trade union secretaries Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty said: “The Scottish Government’s decision to walk away from its previous commitments to guarantee BiFab’s manufacture of eight turbine jackets on the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) project has put these yards on the brink of administration.

“Our unions have a legal view that the minister has no reason or obligation to walk away from BiFab under EU State Aid regulations, but putting to one side the government’s argument that will cease to exist in a few weeks’ time, there is another option.

“The Scottish Government can pick up the phone to the UK Government and ask for the guarantees needed to give these yards a lifeline, and the chance of a future for the communities dependent on them.

“The UK Government has the scope to intervene and an interdependent approach could hold the key to saving the best chance we have of building an offshore wind manufacturing supply chain in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government often points the finger elsewhere to explain away repeated failures over renewables jobs, so it would be surprising if they have not even picked up the phone to the UK government for help.

“Workers and their communities in Fife and Lewis have no time for a constitutional blame game, and both governments, given their lofty ambitions for green jobs, could and should work together to bring this badly needed contract to Scotland.”

The Scottish Government, in a bid to save it from closure in 2017, provided a £37.4m bailout and converted it to its 32.4% equity stake in the company. According to official 2018/19 accounts, that stake is worth just £2m because of expected losses. It will be worthless if the company goes into liquidation.