FERRIES: Jim McColl backs journalist’s bid to expose ‘truth’ of ferry fiasco

Kenny Kemp
Editor Kenny Kemp describes Caledonian Inquirer as a polemic designed to highlight serious issues.

Dunbartonshire businessman Jim McColl has helped to fund a new publication aimed at exposing “the truth” about Scotland’s ferry scandal.

Copies of the Caledonian Inquirer will be distributed in west coast towns and island communities.

Described as a polemical “broadsheet” it includes interviews with ferry experts, politicians and islanders.

Mr McColl owned Ferguson shipyard before it collapsed amid a bitter dispute with ferries agency CMAL.

Both CMAL and Mr McColl have blamed each other for the problems that have beset the construction of two CalMac ferries, Glen Sannox and hull 802, which are five years late and at least £240 million over budget.

The delays have had a knock-on impact on the west coast ferry network which is struggling with an ageing fleet and frequent breakdowns.

The new publication is edited by Kenny Kemp, a freelance journalist and ghost writer who has previously worked for the Sunday Herald, the Scotsman and Scottish Business Insider.

He told the BBC: “It’s a polemic – a modern day broadsheet to highlight a serious issue. I’ve been following this story for a long time.  Jim McColl has put some money into this, but I’ve also helped pay for it. There is a real need to find the truth behind this whole debacle.”

The first edition includes an article by Jim McColl himself as well as interviews with Labour MSP Paul Sweeney and Alba MP Kenny MacAskill.

There are also interviews with ferries experts Roy Pedersen and Alf Baird, and a feature examining catamarans as a cost effective way of renewing the CalMac fleet.

Glen Sannox
Glen Sannox is still under construction at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow

One article entitled The CMALFUNCTION describes the Scottish government-owned ferries agency as a “Scottish quango not fit for purpose”.

CMAL was contacted by the BBC but said it had no comment to make on the new publication.

  • Dossier suggests ferry deal may have been rigged

Businessman Jim McColl, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Paul Sweeney MSP.

In September a BBC documentary presented evidence that the procurement process which awarded the CalMac ferries contract to Mr McColl’s company FMEL in 2015 may have been rigged – a claim rejected by CMAL.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon strenuously denied there had been any political interference in the procurement when she faced questioning last month by Holyrood’s public audit committee.

Jim McColl, who once had a kitchen business in Dumbarton’s Broadmeadow industrial estate,  was once a member of the first minister’s council of economic advisers but has become one of her staunchest critics.

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