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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Figures featured in Fraser report
Lord Fraser
Lord Fraser published his report on Wednesday
The man who lead the Holyrood Inquiry did not heap blame for the project's failings on one single individual.

However, Lord Fraser did highlight the roles of some and the flawed management principles which were employed.

Civil servants, Barbara Doig and Paul Grice, were among those who were criticised.

He also expressed surprise at the eagerness of the late First Minister Donald Dewar to rush through the creation of a new parliament.

Lord Fraser said it might have been appropriate for the former Holyrood project manager, Bill Armstrong, to emphasis that construction management, or pay-as-you-go building, had a very significantly higher client risk than traditional procurement vehicles.

The politician said in his report: "Nowhere does Mr Armstrong address or seek to compare the respective profiles in terms of client risk of construction management and management contracting.

Unexplained decision

"Mr Armstrong's advice was poor in this respect and betrayed either a surprising oversight, or at any rate a misunderstanding on his part.

"The selection of construction management was the single factor to which most of the misfortunes that have befallen the project can be attributed."

He said that against that background he was "highly critical" of the failure of Mr Armstrong and Mrs Doig, the civil servant in charge of finding a contractor.

Barbara Doig
Barbara Doig was tasked with finding a contractor
They should have "ensured that there was an appropriate evaluation of the highly risky contract strategy that was adopted, particularly in view of the choice of architect".

Lord Fraser said he had difficulty with Mrs Doig's decision to readmit a tender from Bovis, which was the eventual winner.

He said in his report conclusions: "She was unable to provide me with any satisfactory reason for her selection of Bovis to be readmitted to the process.

"It did not occur to her that there might be legal considerations.

"The complexities of this particular project were such that even without the benefit of hindsight it should have been seen that any sponsor appointed should have had greater familiarity than Mrs Doig with either construction or the sponsorship of major construction projects."

Lord Fraser said that because the Spanish architect, Enric Miralles, insisted on being personally involved in all design issues during the formative stages, there was "inevitable delay and disruption caused by his geographical detachment".

'Managed out'

The Tory peer said in his report: "Whether Enric Miralles fully understood at this time the political environment in which he was expected to work is questionable.

"He was clearly coming under pressure from the project manager and from his business partners in RMJM to work to a schedule in a way that he was unaccustomed to doing. It seems however that he felt strongly that the "gestation" of a project of this type needed time."

Lord Fraser said it was clear from the evidence of Mrs Doig, Robert Gordon, the civil servant who headed the constitution group which prepared the ground for devolution and Sir Muir Russell, the former head of the Scottish civil service, that a conscious decision had been taken by civil servants that the majority of the risk items identified could be "managed out".

Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar had a key role in selecting the Holyrood site
In those circumstances, Lord Fraser said it was felt not necessary or appropriate for ministers to be informed.

He believed Mr Miralles clearly understood the complexity of the designs and articulated this to the client using all manner of presentation techniques.

However, it was far from clear that the architect had the budget clearly in mind when producing designs of such complexity.

Lord Fraser said: "Snr Miralles appears to have been primarily motivated by the desire to insist on his design, disregarding the clear instructions from the corporate body and the project team to accommodate the required changes to the chamber within the existing footprint.

"In short, the joint venture was a misnomer; in reality the picture discloses two teams, separated by geography, working in quite different ways.

"The consequence is that the overall performance of the architect fell below what could reasonably have been expected."

He (Grice) left the MSPs on the corporate body with a serious under-estimation of likely overall costs
Lord Fraser
Lord Fraser said that Mr Grice was not, during the early period after handover, "as personally engaged" with the project in his capacity as project owner as might have been expected.

He went on: "While Mr Grice was generally in attendance at the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Body (SPCB) meetings during this period, the minutes do not record any significant level of contribution from him.

"Mr Grice described very fully, and with commendable frankness, the many demands on his own time and the extent to which he was prepared to leave the running of the project to Mrs Doig and her team.

"However, I have noted that the SPCB lacked the legal power to delegate other than to the clerk."

Lord Fraser said Mr Grice could avoid the earlier criticism for lack of openness with the corporate body.

But he added: "He may have been right in concluding that the estimate before him was one in which he had no confidence, but the consequence of that was that he left the MSPs on the corporate body with a serious under-estimation of likely overall costs.

Issues of governance

"Notwithstanding my earlier expression of sympathy for their position, the corporate body are open to criticism for having failed to take the initiative at a much earlier stage to force the issue on costs; for example by asking for a meeting with their cost consultants, DLE.

"I sense that the management style of the corporate body was essentially reactive, in that it appears to have relied heavily on the information put before it rather than taking a proactive approach."

He also criticised the role of the Scottish Executive chief architect Dr John Gibbons.

Bill Armstrong
Bill Armstrong, former Holyrood project manager
Lord Fraser said: "I have to question the arrangement with Dr Gibbons, which to my mind raises substantial issues of governance.

"I find it difficult to understand that Dr Gibbons could properly act as both the de facto leader of the Holyrood Project Team and sit as a member (even a non-voting member) of the body whose role effectively was to oversee him and his team.

"There was no evidence that he abused his position, but it unsettled others and it is another example of the blurred lines of communication that have plagued this project."

On Mr Dewar himself, he said it was of no surprise that he had contemplated resignation on the basis that he had misled the Scottish Parliament.

Lord Fraser said: "He (Mr Dewar) was steeped in the Westminster tradition that there is no greater democratic misdemeanour than misleading parliament and he clearly carried that with him when he became first minister in the Scottish Parliament.

"However, there was no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he deliberately or knowingly misled MSPs.

"He relied on cost figures given to him by senior civil servants. As it turned out, he should not have done so but he did not conceal figures that he knew were a better assessment. In the event he did not resign and in my view was correct not to have done so."

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