The Scottish Government-owned shipyard company at the centre of a Scots ferry building fiasco has defended the £2,783-a-day pay of its turnaround director.

It emerged on Thursday that, according to Scottish Government figures, Tim Hair, who has been brought in to fix the issues at Ferguson Marine, the owners of the last civilian Clyde shipyard has been paid nearly £1.3m for 454 days work.

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.

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".

And 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."

READ MORE: Ministers' Ferguson Marine ferry fiasco fixer is paid £1.3m over nearly two years

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.

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 condemned his fees as “extortionate”.

HeraldScotland: Pictures Mark Gibson Newsquest Media Group.Pictured Fergusons Owner Jim McColl.First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a visit to Ferguson Marine shipbuilders in Port Glasgow this morning to reveal that the firm is the preferred tenderer for a

He was brought in after Ferguson Marine under tyoon 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.

They 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.

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 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.