HAVING read much of the published documentation regarding the ferries fiasco I feel obliged to challenge Professor William Wardle’s claim (Letters, May 9) that the alleged missing ministerial direction would have altered the Finance Secretary’s statement that this document “was not a contributing factor to ferries being late, off-budget and poorly constructed”. He further states that moving to another bidder would have been problem-free and that the ferries would be up and running by now.

No evidence is offered to support this latter assertion. Indeed Transport Scotland’s email of October 8, 2015 quotes CMAL as saying that moving to another bidder at that stage would not guarantee there would be a lessening of the problems being experienced with Ferguson Marine and citing issues with another yard even when a refund guarantee was in place. Two points need to be made here.

First, CMAL had done a detailed assessment of the Ferguson bid and concluded that whilst it was the most expensive it was also highest on quality. The issue at stake was a proposed alteration to the refund guarantee by Ferguson after it was named as preferred bidder. Poor productivity, management, and workmanship were not perceived and had not been identified during CMAL’s assessment. This would suggest either CMAL’s willingness to take on an unjustified risk, or a perception that the same risks were inherent in all the other bids.

Secondly, the acceptance of a modified refund guarantee was sanctioned by the Scottish ministers after CMAL intimated that it had legal advice that such a changed circumstance made after the preferred bidder had been named would survive any court challenge. I would dispute that. There are plenty of examples in the case law of the European Court of Justice where such a change has been rejected because it was both material in nature and discriminatory towards the other bidders. This is a clear example. At the very least CMAL should therefore publish the legal advice it received and which advised to the contrary.

Contrary to what Prof Wardle claims Ferguson had offered a full 100 per cent refund guarantee, but then withdrew it after being named preferred bidder. This appears to have been a consequence of its marine insurers downgrading the value of its assets so that there was a £15.4 million differential that Jim McColl was required to make up in cash via his investment vehicle Clyde Blowers Capital. This was causing a serious cash-flow problem so instead Mr McColl wanted the taxpayer to underwrite these costs. This is all as detailed in his letter to Erik Ostergard dated March 24, 2018 and published on the Scottish Government’s website.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.


THE effective end of Covid restrictions has come at a time of falling cases, deaths and hospitalisations. Mask-wearing is no longer needed. Pubs and restaurants are busy again, we are back to offices in large numbers. The economy is flourishing, our two main airports have an average of about 800 departures a week. Long gone are those dark days locked in for 23 hours a day when we couldn’t venture over five miles for exercise or to the supermarket.

In short, things are back to normal. Why then is Nicola Sturgeon playing party pooper and urging us all to be “sensible”about the virus when we have just endured two years of our freedoms being removed by her Government?

Ms Sturgeon urges us to be cautious given the NHS is still under serious pressure with the potential for new variants and asks we wear masks in crowded places. Why then is the Government treating Covid like any other virus? Perhaps it’s because virtually no one is wearing masks in crowded places any more, if there was a new variant and other voluntary guidance came back tomorrow it’s unlikely people would comply in large numbers, especially given a UK Government and potentially Sir Kier Starmer can’t even adhere to Covid rules.

Despite Covid deaths stubbornly around 100 a week and still over 1,000 Covid patients in hospital, without legal restrictions future warnings from the Government will be largely ignored. Ms Sturgeon recognises this and the failings of the largely UK Government-led Covid policies, hence Covid is being treated like any other virus. Welcome to the new normal, it’s just like the old one, except if you need an ambulance or are waiting for hospital treatment or are clinically vulnerable or are their carer, or have long Covid, or an exhausted nurse, the list goes on….

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh.


I NOTE John Jamieson’s glib assertion that men should have no say about abortion (Letters, May 7). This trades on the unsupported belief that all men are against abortion, and all women are for it.

I believe that life begins at conception, but one must live in the world as one finds it, and not as one wishes it to be; therefore I agree with those who argue that there has to be some legal form of safe abortion. And that is where the trouble begins.

The terms of all debate on abortion are already set by the pro-abortion side. At present in this country a moderate view prevails; but what if the extremist view should gain traction that an unborn, but viable, child is of no worth unless its mother has decided to give birth? It has already been proposed that those with Down Syndrome may be aborted up to 36 weeks. I may perhaps be forgiven for taking a cynical view: banning men from speaking about abortion is no more than another way for pro-abortion extremists to avoid debating the issues and to rule by diktat.

Charlie Friel, Clydebank.


I WAS disappointed by the absence of any reference to Mary Livingstone in your article on the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum ("Revamped David Livingstone museum is nominated for industry’s top ‘Oscar’", The Herald, May 9).

I understand a considerable amount of research into Mary Livingstone was carried out over the last year and, unless I am mistaken, a tour devised to highlight Mary and her achievements in her own right. This work was, I believe, carried out by a visitor assistant at the Burrell prior to its recent reopening.

Ann Ross-McCall, Glasgow.


AM I the only person who wishes the Daleks had got Dr Who ?

Michael Watson, Glasgow.