The Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has today written to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), on behalf of all members of the committee, requesting a public letter of apology from the company for 'intimidating and threating behaviour' toward a witness.
The committee has launched an inquiry into the mismanagement of a £97 million Scottish Government contract for the construction and procurement of two ferry vessels, ordered from Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd.
Mr Pedersen, who is a member of the Scottish Government’s Ferry Industry Advisory Group and had previously provided evidence to the committee on the matter, had received notification from CMAL's legal advisors that he had allegedly committed defamation and were demanding he change his evidence and provide a written apology or face legal action.
Under section 41 (Defamatory statements) of the Scotland Act 1998 however, for the purposes of the law of defamation, any statement made in proceedings of the Parliament (which includes a committee of the Parliament) is absolutely privileged.
Welcoming the Convener's letter, Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: "This is absolutely the right course of action. Witnesses that have important evidence to present to a committee inquiry should in no way feel intimidated or unable to provide their opinion.
"It is up to the MSPs carrying out the inquiry to decide where the weight of evidence lies and it is not appropriate that other individuals or companies should try to intervene in that process.
"The committee has acted unanimously on this matter and I hope that CMAL will take this lesson to heart and apologise immediately."
Notes for editors: