A senior SNP MSP has told of his shock after it emerged that ministers are paying a Ferguson Marine 'turnaround director' more than £790,000 a year to resolve a ferry building fiasco.

Stuart McMillan, who has been an MSP for the Greenock and Inverclyde constituency since 2016, has questioned whether the public is getting value for money from the nationalised shipyard.

Gloucester-based businessman Tim Hair was handed the £2565-a-day deal by ex-finance secretary Derek Mackay two years ago.

Documents show Mr Hair was paid £791,285 between January 1 and December 31 last year.

Mr McMillan, who has previously represented the West of Scotland region between 2007 and 2016 and is seeking re-election reacted after Sandy Easdale, who owns the Greenock-based McGill's Buses accused ministers of "throwing taxpayers’ cash around like confetti" in the ongoing ferries scandal.

Mr Easdale said the people of Inverclyde were "sick of the national embarrassment" that had been created by government around the once proud Ferguson Marine shipyard.

Alongside his brother James, Sandy Easdale had expressed an interest in saving the yard when it went into administration in August 2014.

The last civilian Clyde shipyard was ultimately sold to tyoon Jim McColl and then went into administration five years later following a dispute with Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd - the taxpayer-funded company which buys and leases publicly owned CalMac's ships on behalf of the Scottish government - as the price of the construction of two lifeline ferries under a £97m fixed price contract more than doubled.


READ MORE: Ministers face £5m claim over secret Ferguson Marine nationalisation deal

The McGill’s owner – who says he is not affiliated to any political party - said he had written to Mr McMillan to express his concern at the payout.

He said: “The situation at Ferguson’s since the first administration has been nothing short of a national scandal. I know the skills and talent that were there when we looked at the business in 2014 – it needed leadership and investment to make it prosper."

And Mr McMillan has said that he would be happy to meet with him in the weeks following the Scottish Parliamentary election saying: "Like Mr Easdale, I am shocked at the level of salary and expenses Mr Hair is reported to have received."

He added: “I cannot justify this level of salary whilst there are a growing number of people in my community going to foodbanks and there are many people who are struggling to keep their heads above water.

Mr McMillan, who has been the deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament delegated powers and law reform committee added: “I supported the Scottish Government taking the yard into public ownership and still do. These actions saved over 300 jobs and more have been created since then.

“However, local people will wonder quite rightly, if we are getting value for money when one person can receive such a vast pay packet.


“We all want the yard to be a success and if Mr Hair fully turns the yard around, delivers the two CalMac vessels in the reported timescale and is able to increase the yard’s order book, then some may argue they understand his high level of pay.”

Ferguson Marine's financial collapse in August, 2019 led to a state takeover, while the delivery of two lifeline island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 which were due online in the first half of 2018 will be between four and five years late.

Mr McColl went on to blame repeated design changes by CMAL for the issues in building the vessels for operator CalMac, which is also publicly-owned.

Around £45m in Scottish Government loans to keep the yard afloat have also been written off.

Opposition parties on Holyrood's rural economy and connectivity committee united in condemnation over ministers' rejection of their "catastrophic failure" conclusion of an inquiry into the procurement of the ferries which have led to up to five years of delay.

In their 129-page report, MSPs called for a “root-and-branch overhaul” of the ferry procurement process, declaring that established procedures are “no longer fit for purpose”.

READ MORE: Revealed: Ministers' secret path to the controversial state takeover of Ferguson Marine

The report in December said the Scottish Government was too willing to press ahead with the ferry project despite the risks involved and stated CMAL and Transport Scotland’s due diligence was “inadequate”.

But connectivity and islands secretary Paul Wheelhouse hit back insisting the government took "balanced, informed decisions following appropriate diligence and independent advice" and that securing hundreds of skilled jobs cannot represent failure.

He said: "Scottish Ministers took balanced, informed decisions following appropriate diligence and independent advice. In reluctantly accepting increased cost and timescale for the delivery of the vessels, Scottish Ministers have acted and have secured hundreds of skilled jobs and wider economic activity. I do not regard those difficult decisions to represent a failure."

READ MORE: Would-be Ferguson Marine owner Sandy Easdale sounds off on Scots ferry fiasco 'national scandal'

A Ferguson Marine spokesman said: "A benchmarking exercise was conducted as part of the recruitment process to identify market rates.

"This was especially relevant for the Turnaround Director. The agreed fee was well within the benchmark and consistent with market rates which reflect the highly specialised nature of a role that requires senior level experience and a solid track record of transforming failing businesses.

"Tim Hair is an experienced specialist in transformational change with a track record of stabilising companies in difficult situations. "