£3,000 a day

Sturgeon defends shipyard boss’s ‘Messi-like’ pay

Ferry delays at Ferguson Marine

Nicola Sturgeon was accused yesterday of hiring a turnaround boss at the troubled Ferguson Marine on “Messi-like” pay to cushion him from the “pain” of leaving Hampshire for Port Glasgow.

The First Minister defended the appointment of Tim Hair, who received almost £2 million between the end of 2019 and February this year when he left the yard with the problems of delays and cost over-runs unresolved.

He was chosen from a shortlist of three and was paid £2,850 per day, according to emails obtained by Scottish Labour.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that all the decisions around appointing Hair followed proper process and procedures, adding: “I don’t set the market rates for what people are paid.”

But Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, replied: “Market rate, £3,000 a day? Were you signing Lionel Messi?

“Government advisers actually suggested Tim Hair needed a decent pay package so that life wasn’t and I quote, ‘unnecessarily painful’ for him while he swapped Hampshire for Port Glasgow. Shocking and out of touch.”

Ms Sturgeon has accepted that the situation around Ferguson Marine is unacceptable and said ministers were intent on completing the project.

A  report published by Audit Scotland last week pointed to a “multitude of failures” around the handling of the ferries contract and said it was difficult to ascertain who was responsible for key decisions.

The yard was nationalised in 2019 and the budget for the ferries has ballooned from £97m to £240m.

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