One of the key players in the Holyrood saga has hit back at criticism by
Lord Fraser in his report on the Scottish Parliament saga.
Bill Armstrong defended the construction management option
Bill Armstrong denied he had done too little to alert ministers to the perils
of using the "construction management" approach to the project.
Mr Armstrong is an experienced architect who was Holyrood's project manager for a year.
He was the subject of some of the most serious criticism by Lord Fraser.
The peer said Mr Armstrong and civil servant Barbara Doig had failed to ensure a proper study was made of the "highly risky" construction management approach, in which the client has full control but bears the risk.
Mr Armstrong should have prepared and Ms Doig should have insisted on
getting a report to be used as a basis for seeking ministers' views, said the
But Mr Armstrong told BBC Radio Scotland he had no access to ministers
"I reported to the project sponsor who then took information upwards to
ministers. That was a civil service responsibility entirely."
He insisted civil servants, including the chief architect, the chief quantity surveyor, and director of administration, had all been made aware of the risks involved in construction management.
Donald Dewar's timescale drove the decisions, Mr Armstrong said
But construction management was the only method suitable for the circumstances
at that time, said Mr Armstrong, who was Holyrood project manager from November
1997 to December 1998 when he resigned.
He denied that he had not fully alerted the civil servants of the risks.
"If you go into a meeting with the chief architect, head of building, the
chief quantity surveyor, the director of administration, all top level civil
servants, you give them documents - their own documents, Treasury documents,
Treasury recommendations - how much more are you expected to do to make them
understand what is involved?"
He rejected criticism in the report that he gave poor advice.
"The selection of construction management was driven by one decision only,"
"That was Donald Dewar's decision to start the project on site in July
1999 and to finish it two years later.
"It left you with only one option - construction management, and that
decision was driven by Donald Dewar's programme."