The turnaround director of the Scottish Government-owned shipyard company at the centre of a Scots ferry building fiasco has been paid nearly £1.3m for 454 days work.

Official Scottish Government figures have revealed that Tim Hair's invoiced fees at the taxpayer's expense as head of nationalised Ferguson Marine works out at a £2,783 a day - making him one of the UK's highest-earning public servants.

Details of Mr Hair's invoiced fees, including expenses,  show that in the nearly two years between August, 2019 and July, 2021 he earned £1,263,564.

His over £600,000-a-year payments towers over the £160,000-a-year salary of the First Minister.

Senior Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny now a senior figure in the pro-independence Alba Party said the level of pay is a "political scandal".

The Scottish Government say that the Mr Hair's net cost of £2000 per day after income tax and national insurance deductions "was in the middle of the industry norm".

According to ministers, Mr Hair's contract was for an initial period of two to three months with the option to roll forward on a monthly basis but with a four week notice period.

READ MORE: Ministers under fire as fears grow over collapse of Scots ferry fiasco firm

Mr Hair, a Gloucestershire-based businessman and the former chief of engineering firm Chamberlain, was handed the deal by ex-finance secretary Derek Mackay two years ago, according to the Scottish Government.

Opposition parties have condemned his fees as “extortionate”.

The Herald:

He was brought in after the last civilian Clyde shipyard undertyoon Jim McColl went into administration 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 - and as the price of the construction of two lifeline ferries under a £97m fixed price contract more than doubled.

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 over four 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.

Earlier this year it emerged that Ferguson Marine had racked up £100m of losses in just four months of nationalisation.

Ministers say that six potential candidates for the turnaround director role were approached, and that senior officials interviewed three candidates by phone.

Ministers say that they concluded that Tim Hair, who operates through his own service company Melville Management Ltd, "had the requisite skills and experience to perform the role".

They said: "Tim has significant experience in the engineering and automotive sectors, has led a number of business turnarounds and transformations and is a member of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science & Technology and the Institute of Turnaround.

"The primary requirement when recruiting the Turnaround Director was experience of turning around engineering businesses with an emphasis on a collaborative approach to re-set the relationship with customers and Tim Hair was selected on this basis. Additionally, Tim Hair had shipping experience in his early career."

They say that in the period since 1995, Tim Hair has led multiple turnarounds in several industrial sectors. But the Scottish Government would not provide exact details as each were covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Mr McEleny, the former leader of the Inverclyde Council SNP group also accused the Government of trying to conceal the rate paid to Mr Hair by failing to disclose the information when first requested.

The Herald:

Mr McEleny, who sat on the taskforce that saved the yard from closure in 2014 and who again intervened when there was a further threat of administration in 2019 said: “The grotesque level of continued payments to Tim Hair is a political scandal. Who can blame him for taking so long to self fulfil his role as “Turnaround” Director when he has become a millionaire out of the length of time he’s been drawing down such an obscene amount.

“Further, it is a great concern that the Government concealed and delayed the information about just how much he is being paid, but it’s even more so alarming to learn that Ministers don’t even know what’s going on at the yard and are taking no direct political ownership of turning it around.

“Ferguson’s has the potential to be at the heart of an industrial renewal on the Clyde but that needs a Government that are willing to commit that Scotland’s ferry fleet will be built by Scotland’s shipyard. Whereas at the moment, instead of creating the potential for thousands of new jobs, the Scottish Government are hiding behind UK Government red tape. We need a proper leadership team installed at the yard and the guarantee of years of work given to it."

And former deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and north east Scotland MSP Liam Kerr said: “Ferguson Marine has lurched from one financial crisis to another in recent years and the SNP have blown millions of taxpayers money as a result.

“SNP ministers have left our island communities without lifeline ferries with no end in sight. The public will be appalled that SNP ministers signed off on such an extortionate daily rate.

“There is a real risk this company could collapse, yet SNP ministers appear content to continue to pay top bosses thousands a day despite the failures continuing.”

The Scottish Government has pumped over £17m into the business during the four months to March 2020 – including £10m into the construction of the two ferries.

Scotland's public finance watchdog is currently probing claims of a misuse of public funds in relation to the controversial takeover which is being looked at alongside the awarding of £45m of taxpayers-funded loans from the Scottish Government to Ferguson Marine before it collapsed.

The Scottish Government is still owed over £40m from the collapse of Ferguson Marine having used £7.5m of what they were owed through the loans to buy the business.

A Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) board spokesman said: "The role of a turnaround director requires specialised skills and experience to transform businesses that are in serious distress.  The appointment was made following a rigorous selection process, which included a third party benchmarking exercise to assess current market rates for this type of specialist role.  The agreed fee rate is well within this scale and reflective of market rates.

“The turnaround director has a remit to stabilise the shipyard business and transform it into a successful, competitive business and retain shipyard skills and jobs in the Port Glasgow area."