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Journalist hits back at politician after online attack

Conor Matchett 2022A journalist has hit back at a politician after being attacked online over a story he wrote.

Conor Matchett, deputy political editor at The Scotsman, has urged James Dornan to spend “more time on his constituents” after the Scottish National Party MSP criticised him on Twitter.

Conor, pictured, had revealed a Polish shipyard with a track record of delivering ferries for island communities had been overlooked for a contract by the SNP-led Scottish Government in favour of troubled Ferguson Marine.

But his story on the issue prompted Mr Dornan, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, to take to the social media website and compare Conor to Regan MacNeil, a character from 1973 horror film The Excorcist.

In response to a link to his story Conor posted, Mr Dornan wrote: “[Conor] must have a neck like that wee lassie in The Exorcist with all the swivels it does.”

Discussing the MSP’s comments, Conor told HTFP: “It’s always nice to have proof you are annoying the right people with stories that scrutinise political judgement.

“Hopefully Mr Dornan spends more time on his constituents than he does coming up with these lame ‘zingers’ for his Twitter followers.”

Ferguson Marine was contracted to build two ferries that are more than five years late and more than £150m over budget, but a newly unredacted submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee revealed ferry operator CalMac was asked in 2015 to sign a contract with the Scottish firm despite having the option to reopen negotiations with Polish company Remontowa.

The Inverclyde shipyard had been rescued in 2014 by businessman Jim McColl, who at the time supported Scottish independence, but later entered administration before being taken into public ownership by the Scottish Government in December 2019.

Discussing the issue on Twitter, Conor wrote: “In 2015 [Ferguson Marine] was a private venture whose lack of competitiveness was a red flag for the Scottish Government and CalMac.

“Critically, did politics – a Scottish shipyard rescued by pro-independence businessman building Scottish ferries – get in the way of commercial sense and taxpayer risk? Hard to see how it didn’t.”