A Transport Scotland  chief has said that there will be an "all encompassing review" into allegations that the awarding of the ferry fiasco contract to tycoon Jim McColl's Ferguson Marine was rigged.

It comes in the wake of criticism that the examination ordered by Scottish Government-owned ferry owner and procurement body CMAL was flawed because it was alleged it was only looking at whether fraud had been committed.

The probe over the procurement process to build the long delayed and over budget ferries at Ferguson Marine had been described as a "farce" after it was claimed it would not look at the main allegations levied at the Scottish Government quango.

Top KC Barry Smith was hired to look into the process behind why the Port Glasgow shipyard was awarded the contract to build the Glen Sannox and Hull 802 as both vessels which are six years late and expected to be four times the original £97m contract.

READ MORE: Could CalMac get the permanent right to deliver Scots ferry services?

The BBC had said that it became clear that the task given to Mr Smith by CMAL’s lawyers was to establish simply whether the crime of fraud had taken place. It said the inquiry’s remit seemed completely to exclude investigating whether or not the contract was procured fairly.

The Herald: McColl and Sturgeon at launch of Glen Sannox

A BBC documentary had covered concerns that Ferguson Marine under Jim McColl was given preferential treatment in breach of procurement rules.

But they say they were this was not a matter Mr Smith is investigating.

The Scottish Conservatives' transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the development was "scandalous" as "nobody said there was fraud, criminal or not".

But the issue of fraud as the Scotland's spending regulator told CMAL and Transport Scotland there was a duty to investigate it in the wake of the allegations.

Alison Irvine, interim chief executive of Transport Scotland has told the Scottish Parliament's public audit committee: "What CMAL have asked is to undertake a review of all the allegations made.. and the focus is on whether or not the process was arranged or influenced in a way that was dishonest or fraudulent.

"So to my mind, while it is a matter for CMAL, that sounds like an all encompassing review of the important issues that were raised."

The Auditor General said in the wake of the further rigging concerns that the claims related to whether CMAL followed due process.

Auditor General Stephen Boyle has said in a letter in the wake of the rigging concerns in October, last year: "Although CMAL is a company limited by shares under the Companies Act, it is classified as a public corporation and, as such, is required to comply with relevant sections of the Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM). In relation to fraud, the SPFM requires CMAL to undertake a thorough investigation and to take appropriate legal and/or disciplinary action where justified.

The Herald: Auditor General for Scotland Stephen Boyle

"It is further required to take appropriate disciplinary action where supervisory or management failures have occurred.

"We have had initial discussions with CMAL and Transport Scotland (as CMAL’s sponsor) about their duties to investigate. Both bodies will keep us informed about their planned actions and I will take this into account when considering the scope and timing of any audit work."

The Herald revealed in May, last year that Ferguson Marine could not fulfil mandatory requirements to qualify to even contest for the contract for the two lifeline ferries which remain languishing in an Inverclyde yard.

Evidence showed that the tycoon's shipyard firm which was favoured by the SNP government could not give a commitment to provide a mandatory builder's refund guarantee (BRG) as required and was unable to provide other crucial financial details.

The fails, which raised questions about the legality of the procurement process, were revealed in a confidential Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) completed by Mr McColl's Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) before it was ever even considered as a preferred bidder for the building of Glen Sannox and Hull 802 to serve Scotland's islands.

There were further claims made in a BBC documentary that Ferguson obtained a 424-page 'crib sheet' from a design consultant setting out CalMac's technical requirements, while other bidders had to rely on a more limited 125-page specification. CMAL say this was not provided by them.

Particular focus fell on the failure of Ferguson to offer a builder’s refund guarantee, which would have protected public money once construction ran into problems - which it did.

Mr McColl has said that he only bid for the work on Glen Sannox and Hull 802 after receiving written guidance from transport minister Derek Mackay that refund guarantees were not mandatory to win building work.

Mr Mackay told a local MSP in a letter six months before Mr McColl’s Ferguson Marine yard became preferred bidder that transport bosses saw refund guarantees as only “a preference”.

The Herald revealed that ministers offered a special incentive to ensure Mr McColl’s Ferguson got the £97m contract to ease the concerns of CMAL over the lack of the BRGs which would put them and the taxpayer at financial risk if things were wrong - which it did. It meant that the taxpayer ended up carrying the financial burden of the project, rather than CMAL.

The Herald: ,, (Image: ,)

CMAL which procures ferries for the CalMac fleet has previously said they were "effectively instructed" by ministers to award the contract to Ferguson.

A spokesperson for CMAL said: “CMAL is unable to comment on the investigation while it is ongoing. The KC’s report will be considered by the CMAL Board once it is made available.”

But when it announced the probe it said the KC would conduct an "independent investigation of the procurement process for hulls 801 and 802".