INVERCLYDE'S MSP is urgently arranging a meeting with Ferguson Marine chiefs amid accusations of a 'cover-up' over a refusal to release a report into the management of the shipyard.

Stuart McMillan has also written to Scotland's finance secretary Kate Forbes and transport minister Michael Matheson on what he has termed as 'issues of concern'.

News of Mr McMillan's intervention comes in the wake of criticism of the Scottish Government for refusing a freedom of information request for details of a 'benchmarking exercise' at the yard.

Consultancy organisation First Marine International (FMI) carried out the work last year and has reportedly rated it among the lowest scoring businesses they have assessed in recent years.

Caledonian MacBrayne ferries MV Glen Sannox and the unnamed 'Hull 802' are five years behind schedule following a procurement debacle which saw Ferguson's nationalised in 2019.

The move came after the original contract, awarded to the yard in 2015 under the ownership of billionaire businessman Jim McColl, turned sour.

Mr McMillan said: "I am fully aware of issues of concern about the yard, which I share, and last week wrote to both the finance and economy secretary and the transport minister seeking meetings to discuss them.

"I have already met with [Port Glasgow-based ferry procurement body] Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and I am arranging to meet Ferguson Marine as a matter of urgency."

Greenock-born west Scotland Conservative MSP Jamie Greene said: "The appalling refusal of the SNP Government to publish this report is a massive insult to island residents and ferry users.

"This fiasco continues to go from one bungle to the next and it's no wonder that they want to cover up the findings.

"Brushing this under the rug simply isn't good enough."

In a direct attack on Mr McMillan, Mr Greene added: "Meanwhile, the local MSP is in a position to lobby his boss, the first minister, but I doubt he will be standing up on this issue for those he represents anytime soon."

MSP Mr McMillan told the Telegraph: "Turning the yard around was never going to be easy but, if the Tories had their way, the yard would be shut with every job lost.

"A few months ago we had one Tory MSP complaining about the millions wasted on the yard and another complaining about the Scottish Government investing money into private firms.

"The facts are clear — the Scottish Government invested in Ferguson's and then stepped in to protect the yard when it was heading for liquidation.

"Both of these actions saved local jobs.

"The situation now calls for strong leadership and partnership working to be put in place to drive the yard forward.

"The yard is the natural choice for future orders to replace the CalMac fleet but the Glen Sannox and Hull 802 need to be completed.

"The concerns being raised with me need to be addressed urgently by the yard and the Scottish Government."

A spokeswoman for Ferguson Marine said: "The report by FMI was carried out last year to assist the ongoing transformation and improvement programme.

"Its findings directly reflect the turnaround director's [Tim Hair's] report published in December 2019, which reported serious project management, planning and quality control issues at the point when the shipyard was taken into public ownership.

"The situation is a direct result of the previous poor practices at the shipyard, which we are steadily improving."

The spokeswoman added: "Significant progress has been achieved although there is still a lot of work to do.

"We are doing everything possible to deliver the dual fuel ferry programme, improve productivity, secure contracts for future vessels, and protect local jobs.

"There is a solid and stable senior management team in place at the shipyard.

"The majority of the senior team are in permanent roles and the last few remaining interim posts will be made permanent in the coming months, bringing further stability to the business."

Both the Scottish Government and yard say they are not releasing details of the benchmarking exercise for 'commercial reasons'.