Scotland's ferry scandal: SNP minister claims he has 'nothing more to add' on ferries despite demands for answers from Holyrood committee

SNP minister Keith Brown has defended his submission to a key Holyrood committee around his involvement in the ferries fiasco despite being asked to provide more detail by MSPs.

The justice secretary, who used to hold ultimate responsibility for ferries as infrastructure minister during the period the contract for the two ferries to be built at Ferguson Marine was signed in 2015, claimed there was no further information.

He was asked for details of the information shared with him by then transport minister Derek Mackay and what direct action he took around the procurement of the vessels and the concerns raised by CMAL. The ferries are now more than three times over budget, set to cost more than £300 million, and running six years late.

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After providing minimal detail, Mr Brown was asked to expand on his submission, but told MSPs: “I am content that those responses are accurate and that I do not have any further information to provide.”

Keith Brown was infrastructure minister when the contract for the two ferries was agreed.Keith Brown was infrastructure minister when the contract for the two ferries was agreed.
Keith Brown was infrastructure minister when the contract for the two ferries was agreed.

Mr Brown’s submission, totalling around 150 words, was the focus of the first set of questions put to Nicola Sturgeon when she appeared in front of the public audit committee at the start of November.

Asked whether his submission was satisfactory, the First Minister said: “First, I believe, and am of the view, that Keith Brown answered the questions that were put to him by the committee.

"I am here to answer any questions, and the committee has me for as long as it wants this morning. I am not sure that anybody is going to do a word count on either the questions or the answers, but I am here to answer, to the best of my ability, any questions that the committee has.”

Under the ministerial code, ministers have a duty to the Parliament to be held to account for their policies and to be “as open as possible”. The First Minister is the “ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a minister”, the code adds.

The code states: “Ministers should be as open as possible with the Parliament and the public, reflecting the aspirations set out in the Report of the Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament.”

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