THE disgraced former SNP finance secretary Derek Mackay will return to Holyrood for the first time in two-and-a-half years today to give evidence on the CalMac ferries scandal.

Mr Mackay approved the £97million contract for the two boats given to Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow in October 2015.

He was later forced to bring the shipyard into public ownership after the deal proved a disaster and drove Ferguson Marine into administration.

The Scottish Government’s ferry procurement body Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) warned against giving the contract to Ferguson's before the decision was made and it is not clear why the decision was taken to disregard the body’s evidence. The ferries are now £150m over budget and five years late.

Mr Mackay resigned from the cabinet and vanished from Holyrood in February 2020 after the Scottish Sun reported he had pestered a 16-year-old schoolboy with inappropriate messages.

He quit as an MSP last year, after collecting more than £100,000 in salary and goodbye grants.

The former Renfrewshire North MSP recently set up his own consultancy business, Lochan Associates.

He will appear today before the Public Audit Committee as part of its inquiry into the delays and overspends at Ferguson Marine.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said: “The First Minister and her ministers sought to pin the blame for the catastrophe at Ferguson’s on Derek Mackay so this will be an opportunity for him to set the record straight. I am sure he will want to be clear about who was responsible and why.

“Every SNP minister, past and present, has been avoiding the question of why warnings about the ferry deal were ignored.

“Islanders and the shipyard workers as well as the taxpayer deserve fulsome answers from someone who was in the room when the decisions were taken. These mistakes have cost five years and £250m.”