OUSTED Ferguson's owner Jim McColl insists staff and suppliers have NOT been left £4 million out of pocket - and blamed a Port Glasgow-based ferry firm for the loss of £50m of taxpayers' cash.

The engineering tycoon, who saved the yard from extinction in 2014, has pointed the finger at Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) for the collapse of the business.

Mr McColl accused the Scottish Government-owned ferries and harbours operator of a 'hostile approach' and 'unwillingness to find a resolution' over the disputed £97m CalMac ferry contract that led to the firm going into administration on August 16.

The businessman was responding to reports last week that the yard went bust with debts of more than £70m - including £50m of public money.

Ferguson's and CMAL were involved in a bitter two-year row over the extent of design changes to MV Glen Sannox and the unnamed Hull 802 and who should foot the final bill for the vessels.

The businessman says £127m has been spent on the ships to date, including £83m of 'milestone' contract payments and most of the £45m worth of government loans.

Mr McColl said: "I would firstly like to make it clear that this cost to the taxpayer has been unquestionably caused by CMAL's hostile approach and unwillingness to find a resolution with Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) for the additional costs encountered during the build of the two prototype LNG dual-fuelled ferries."

The engineering tycoon, who controlled the yard via his company Clyde Blowers Capital, says staff were paid their wages 10 days earlier than normal to ensure none of the employees were out of pocket as the firm went into administration.

He also says there was plenty money left over to cover £146,000 owed to the 300-plus workforce in overtime, holiday pay and pensions contributions, adding that most of that bill has now been settled.

Details of the current financial situation at Ferguson's emerged last week from a report produced by administrators Deloitte.

It valued the unfinished ferries at £48.3m, but Mr McColl says they are worth 'at least' £63m, which is how much has been spent on them on purely materials.

He is also adamant that creditors, including a number of Inverclyde suppliers, 'will be fully paid'.

Mr McColl, a government economic adviser, said: "I would be happy to participate in this process in order to highlight the multitude of difficulties we have encountered in attempting to find a resolution with both CMAL and the Scottish Government."

CMAL officials today hit back.

A spokesperson said: "Mr McColl and FMEL have consistently attempted to shift the blame for their failure to others; primarily to CMAL and the Scottish Government. "It is clear that they failed to understand what the contracts required and considered it acceptable to demand payments from the public purse for their design errors and subsequent re-design and re-work.

"If it is decided that there is to be a parliamentary inquiry then we will take a full role to explain our position in fine detail, which in turn will make it crystal clear that the senior management team at FMEL was hopelessly out of its depth."

CMAL bosses also dismissed Mr McColl's notion that Glen Sannox and Hull 802 are 'prototype' vessels as an attempt to 'cover up their failings' and said their primary focus is the completion of the ferries.