Scotland's new tax collector has been accused of blaming telecoms firm BT for failings which saw technology costs double to £122 million, with millions more written off.
An MSP tasked with scrutinising "significant weaknesses" in Registers of Scotland's (RoS) technology procurement accused a senior official of insulting her when she asked him to clarify a suggestion that BT was trying to "maximise profit" from the taxpayer.
RoS senior managers tried to distance themselves from the accusation in their own written evidence to Holyrood's Audit Committee.
Chief information officer Iain Campbell attributed the statement to an external consultant but committee member Mary Scanlon said it conformed with other allegedly accusatory remarks, adding: "Please don't insult me in front of a committee."
Senior RoS officials told the committee that the BT contract was "clumsy", "eviscerating", caused "hassle", left staff "wading through treacle" to get anything done, held them in a "straitjacket" and ultimately left its IT systems "behind a Wizard Of Oz curtain" until BT finally leaves in November.
While he was at pains to point out that he did not blame BT, Mr Campbell said "slick and polished" big companies in search of "easy money" from the public sector can dominate "small-fry" public bodies in contractual negotiations.
RoS will be responsible for collecting stamp duty tax in Scotland from 2015, under new powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
Three months after RoS was officially appointed as Scotland's new tax collectors in May, public spending watchdog Audit Scotland found "significant weaknesses" in RoS's management of information and communication technology (ICT) contracts.
RoS paid out £112 million after it reached an agreement with BT in 2004 for ICT provision and work to update its IT systems, even though the original cost was estimated to be £66 million. It then terminated the contract 20 months early, with £6.7 million of taxpayers' money written off.
RoS Keeper Sheenagh Adams and deputy keeper and accountable officer Catriona Hardman were appearing alongside Mr Campbell at Holyrood's Audit Committee.