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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Inquiry supremo seeking closure
Lord Fraser
Lord Fraser will release his report in September
Lord Fraser has announced that the publication of his report into the Holyrood building has been timed to help "draw a line" under the fiasco.

Lord Fraser has heard the final evidence in his inquiry into the cost of the Holyrood building project.

At the close, he said he was on course to produce his report in the first week of September - a month before the building is set for a Royal opening.

The inquiry heard from its final witness on Friday.

David Lewis, from structural engineers Ove, Arup & Partners, told the inquiry that the Holyrood debating chamber was the most complex design he had ever tackled.

He also said that delays in producing detailed designs had caused cost problems.

'Fantastic design'

Mr Lewis said the delays and price rises were caused by a lack of control over the design, late delivery of drawings by the architects, the complexity of the building and anti-terrorist measures.

He said: "On the Scottish Parliament project it was not clear who was responsible for controlling the design process."

Mr Lewis, who served as the firm's project director from January 1999, also claimed that the desire for a "fantastic design" was always seen as more important than finishing on time.

Parliament site
The new parliament will be officially opened by the Queen in October

He said his work was "frequently invalidated" because lead architect Enric Miralles would change the design.

He also received conflicting information from the two firms in the joint architectural venture - Mr Miralles's company EMBT and his Scottish partners RMJM.

Mr Lewis also revealed that his firm capped its fees as early as August 2000 - nearly three years before Mr Reid announced that consultants on the project had capped their fees.

Closing speeches at the inquiry will take place at the end of the month.

Lord Fraser, whose inquiry has collated more than one million words in evidence during the inquiry, is expected to deliver his report to MSPs in September.

'Draw a line'

He said he was keen to avoid a clash with the official opening in October of the 431m building and help Presiding Officer George Reid put the controversy in the past.

He added: "I think the presiding officer's desire to draw a line under this and get the new parliament working in a new building is a very proper ambition.

"By delivering in the first few days of September that will allow him to achieve that objective."

  • Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists is attempting to broker a deal between the Fraser Inquiry and the BBC over the Holyrood tapes.

    Lord Fraser has asked for access to the untransmitted material recorded for a BBC Scotland programme by independent production company Wark Clements.

    It is understood that the NUJ's Scottish organiser Paul Holleran is now planning to approach the inquiry, BBC management and Wark Clements.

    He will suggest that the inquiry should be able to see the tapes in private and that if Lord Fraser wants any part of them to be made public, there should be an agreed approach to the interviewee before this is done.

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