Report into Holyrood fiasco blames no one

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Systematic failures and catastrophically expensive decisions led to more than £150m of taxpayers' money being wasted in the building of Scotland's new parliament - but no single agent is to blame, an official inquiry has concluded.

Systematic failures and catastrophically expensive decisions led to more than £150m of taxpayers' money being wasted in the building of Scotland's new parliament - but no single agent is to blame, an official inquiry has concluded.

After 43 days of evidence, more than 60 witnesses and six months of deliberation, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie published his report yesterday into the Holyrood building fiasco and said there was "no single villain of the piece". The Tory peer said that the three-year delay in completing the building - at £431m, 10 times over budget - was due to a "series of systematic failures and an unwillingness of those involved to call a halt and demand an appraisal".

Announcing his findings yesterday at the Land Court in Edinburgh, Lord Fraser said "some catastrophically expensive decisions" had been made. Chief among these, he said, was the decision by project managers in July 1998, not cleared with ministers, to follow the procurement route of "construction management" - under which the client has full control but carries all the risk. He said that the Scottish Parliament did not fully grasp the risks for nearly two years after the project was handed over to them.

The 264-page report cleared the late first minister Donald Dewar of deliberately misleading MSPs about the cost of the project, but criticised the civil service under Sir Muir Russell for failing to provide accurate cost estimates. Lord Fraser said it was also unfair to lay the blame on the architect, the late Enric Miralles, as "he was always a concept designer rather than a manager".

He said the original White Paper cost estimate of £40m was "a myth", and that a budget of about £200m would have been more accurate.

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