Ex-SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has lodged a police complaint calling for an investigation into the 'missing' documents over Scotland's ferry fiasco raising questions about 'misconduct in public office'.

The nationalist veteran has made a complaint as Scottish Government ministers were accused of breaking the law through a lack of transparency over the ferry fiasco which has seen two new lifeline vessels delayed by over five years and with costs spiralling to a quarter of a million pounds.

Public finance auditors expressed "frustration" over a lack of documentary evidence around why ministers were happy to accept the risks of proceeding with awarding the controversial £97m order to Jim McColl-led Ferguson Marine without mandatory refund guarantees from the shipbuilder.

Now Mr Sillars has called has demanded the police investigate the missing documentation surrounding why ministers went ahead with granting the contract despite the concerns raised by the Government’s ferry procurement body, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) over the lack of financial guarantees that placed them at risk.

Mr Sillars, now a supporter of Alex Salmond's new Alba Party, has called for the the police to investigate the missing documentation surrounding why ministers went ahead with granting the contract despite the concerns raised by the Government’s ferry procurement body, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) over the lack of financial guarantees that placed them at risk.

Scottish Parliament public audit committee convener Richard Leonard said correspondence between officials in the Scottish Government and at CMAL suggested there was a ministerial direction, but that it had not been appropriately recorded.

And he suggested that that the transparency failure was a breach of the Public Finance and Accountability Act.

A ministerial direction, or written authority, is a formal edict from ministers to proceed with a spending proposal despite objections from civil servants.

HeraldScotland:

Mr Sillars said: "There are three Acts of the Scottish Parliament which place a solemn duty on accountable officials and ministers to minute key decisions, and to safely store the documents recording who was there, the subject matter, and the decisions taken. It is inconceivable that was not done by a professional civil service and ministers with long service in government. Indeed the First Minister confirms that there was a written record taken.

"Where are the documents? Who was responsible for placing them in the records? Who failed to do so? Did they fail to do so? Were they destroyed? Why, among all the documents relevant to this fiasco are these ones, the key ones about who made the contract decision, not to be found?

"These are the questions that should fall now to the police to find the answers, given that in Scots common law the crime of misconduct in public office is there to protect the public interest when those in a public administration fail disastrously to fulfil their duties.

"I have made the complaint to Police Scotland and not to the Crown Office because, with all due respect to the new Lord Advocate, I remain unconvinced that the impartiality required when anything relates to the Scottish Government remains unproven.”

The auditors' examination of the issues said there was no documented evidence to confirm why Scottish ministers were willing to accept the risks of awarding the contract despite the concerns.  The act alone has cost the taxpayer £80m.

The first ship was meant to enter service on the Arran route in the summer of 2018 but is not expected to be ready until next year at the earliest - five years late. Hull 802, destined for an Outer Hebrides route, has gone the same way. The latest estimated cost for both ships is at least £250m off an original fixed contract price of £97m.

SNP finance minister Ivan McKee has previuously dismissed claims that there could be a breach of ministerial code of conduct over record keeping failures after Audit Scotland said there was not a proper record over the controversial ferry contract award.

He said that there were already 200 documents in the public domain about the process the Scottish Government went through and that ministers was committed to "open government" and "values and encourages accountability".

But Mr Sillars said: "Like most people who value probity and effectiveness in governance, I have watched appalled as the CalMac ferries fiasco has unfolded, a fiasco compounded by missing documents that would, if available, hold those responsible to account.

"I have also watched MSPs and MPs demand a public inquiry which all knew the Scottish Government would not concede. They get high marks for political points scoring, but the public, that is the people who have paid the extortionate bills, are still in the dark; and the west coast communities who have suffered economic and social disruption have no one whom they can identify to seek recompense from."