A TRANSPORT Scotland chief has said there will be an all encompassing review into allegations that the awarding of the ferry fiasco contract to tycoon Jim McColl's Ferguson Marine was 'rigged'.

It comes in the wake of criticism that the examination ordered by Scottish Government-owned ferry owner and procurement body CMAL was flawed because it was alleged that it was only looking at whether fraud had been committed.

The probe over the procurement process to build the long delayed and over budget ferries at the Port shipyard had been described as a 'farce' after it was claimed it would not look at the main allegations levied at the Scottish Government quango.

Top KC Barry Smith was hired to look into the process behind why the Port Glasgow shipyard was awarded the contract to build the Glen Sannox and Hull 802, with both vessels six years late and expected to cost four times the original £97m price.

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A BBC documentary covered concerns that the yard under Mr McColl was given preferential treatment in breach of procurement rules.

Alison Irvine, interim chief executive of Transport Scotland, has now told the Scottish Parliament's public audit committee: "What CMAL have asked is to undertake a review of all the allegations made...and the focus is on whether or not the process was arranged or influenced in a way that was dishonest or fraudulent.

"So to my mind, while it is a matter for CMAL, that sounds like an all encompassing review of the important issues that were raised."

Auditor General Stephen Boyle said in a letter in the wake of the 'rigging' concerns in October, last year: 'Although CMAL is a company limited by shares under the Companies Act, it is classified as a public corporation and, as such, is required to comply with relevant sections of the Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM).

'In relation to fraud, the SPFM requires CMAL to undertake a thorough investigation and to take appropriate legal and/or disciplinary action where justified.

Greenock Telegraph: Auditor General for Scotland Stephen Boyle

'It is further required to take appropriate disciplinary action where supervisory or management failures have occurred.

'We have had initial discussions with CMAL and Transport Scotland (as CMAL’s sponsor) about their duties to investigate. Both bodies will keep us informed about their planned actions and I will take this into account when considering the scope and timing of any audit work.'

It was revealed last May that Ferguson Marine could not fulfil mandatory requirements to qualify to even contest the contract for the two lifeline ferries.

Evidence showed that the tycoon's shipyard firm couldn't give a commitment to provide a mandatory builder's refund guarantee (BRG) and was unable to provide other crucial financial details.

This was outlined in a confidential Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) completed by Mr McColl's Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) before it was ever even considered as a preferred bidder for the building of Glen Sannox and Hull 802.

Particular focus fell on the failure of Ferguson to offer a builder’s refund guarantee, which would have protected public money once construction ran into problems.

Mr McColl has said that he only bid for the work on Glen Sannox and Hull 802 after receiving written guidance from transport minister Derek Mackay that refund guarantees were not mandatory to win building work.

Mr Mackay told a local MSP in a letter six months before Mr McColl’s Ferguson Marine yard became preferred bidder that transport bosses saw refund guarantees as only 'a preference'.

CMAL, which procures ferries for the CalMac fleet, has previously said they were "effectively instructed" by ministers to award the contract to Ferguson.

A spokesperson for CMAL said: “CMAL is unable to comment on the investigation while it is ongoing. The KC’s report will be considered by the CMAL board once it is made available.”