Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 26 May 2004

Holyrood Inquiry nears completion - John Campbell, QC outlines his findings

The Holyrood Inquiry, headed by Lord Fraser into the bullding of the new Scottish Parliament, is nearing completion - or at least as far as it can go with the information currently to hand (see below). Yesterday the Counsel to the Inquiry, John Campbell, QC, delivered a summary of his findings over the past eight months, leaving little doubt about his views as to where the responsibility/blame for the huge overspend may lie - the original budget was estimated in the Scotland Act (the legislation at Westminster which created the devolved Scottish Parliament) at GBP40m, whereas the latest available estimate for the full cost is GBP430m, a 975% increase. The Scotsman summarises the areas of responsibility here as ascribed by Mr Campbell, although this does not yet appear in the official Holyrood Inquiry website. Broadly summed up, he concluded to Lord Fraser:

"In my respectful submission, the Scottish Parliament building project exemplifies a failure of procurement management of gigantic proportions, and at almost every level of official and professional involvement."
and
"I would also suggest that hardly anyone involved with this project can honestly stand up and say that he did all he could to prevent what has happened."


He reserves especial criticism for BBC Scotland, specifically relating to its 'arrogance' by refusing to make available to the Inquiry the tapes of interviews made for a future documentary on the project, including those with Donald Dewar (the political driving force) and Enric Miralles (the building architect), both now deceased. Some key quotes from Mr Campbell's remarks relating to the BBC are in a Daily Telegraph article today (not yet on the website):

"The BBC has, inexplicably, failed to recognise where the public interest lies and by its refusal has in part thwarted the purpose of the inquiry."
and
"I cannot accede to the proposition that a viewing of only the tapes shpowing Mr Dewar and Snr Miralles is satisfactory."
and
The people of Scotland deserve nothing less than the full cooperation of the state broadcaster and they have not had it. High-sounding talk about the BBC's independence from processes such as this inquiry are a cover for a misconceived and immature response."
He said the BBC had -
"subordinated the public interest to its own private considerations"

- pretty damning!

UPDATE: (26MAY04 14.46 BST) The Scottish Executive today maintains its stance that no civil servant was to blame, but accepts that mistakes were made. Self-serving nonsense, in my ever-so-humble opinion!

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