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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
'Damning' Holyrood report
Margo MacDonald
Margo MacDonald: Public inquiry call
An independent candidate in the Scottish Parliament elections has released a report into the controversial Holyrood building project.

Margo MacDonald said its contents vindicated her long-standing criticism of the project which has been beset by delays and spiralling costs.

The report alleges that the late architect of the building benefited from a "substantial overpayment of fees".

It also says contractor Bovis was not appointed in a "fair, transparent and accountable manner".

But a parliament spokesman said the auditor general was "satisfied" that all appointments were "properly undertaken".

Ms MacDonald, who left the Scottish National Party in acrimonious circumstances in January, unveiled the report at a media conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

After a public inquiry we will be able to see who should get an MBE, or whatever the going rate is, and who should get a P45
Margo MacDonald

The original budget for the project was set at a maximum of 40m.

But the latest figures from parliamentary officials put the cost of the building at just under 295m and landscaping another 14.2m.

MSPs are not expected to move into the new parliament until 2004.

The report was carried out by international cost consultants Gardiner & Theobald for Auditor General Robert Black.

'Blatant disregard'

It was published in September 2000 but its findings were never made public.

The report says:

  • 1999 was "a disaster" for the project with the team behind it "taking instructions from almost anyone" leading to lost time and higher costs

  • There was "a blatant disregard of Treasury/Scottish Office guidelines in the procurement of consultants, construction manager and some individuals within the Holyrood project management team"

  • Bovis won the contract because it had a "comfort factor" relationship with a senior Scottish Office official

  • This relationship "has over-ridden the attempt, albeit flawed, to procure the best construction management candidate".

Spanish architect Enric Miralles' "upturned boats" design was commissioned in the summer of 1998.

Ms MacDonald said the report made "devastating reading" and called for a public inquiry.

Scottish Parliament building construction
The project has been dogged by delays and spiralling costs

She said: "If I am re-elected I will campaign tirelessly for this major scandal to be fully investigated by a truly independent figure who will lay the truth bare for all of Scotland to see.

"If voters see we are owning up and facing up to problems they may learn to have more faith in the Scottish Parliament."

Overpaid contractors should pay money back, she also stated.

"After a public inquiry we will be able to see who should get an MBE, or whatever the going rate is, and who should get a P45."

But a parliament spokesman said the auditor general said it was right for project management to take quality as well as price into account when awarding the contract.

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie said the report was "extremely worrying" and urged the first minister to make a statement.

The rocky road to Holyrood
02 Apr 03  |  Scotland
What future for rebel Margo?
25 Sep 02  |  Scotland
Holyrood desk costs 88,000
24 Jan 03  |  Scotland

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