Architect Norman Foster called to testify in Spanish court case, or face possible arrest

The Spanish court has asked the architect to testify in December 

Graham Keeley
In Barcelona
Wednesday 28 October 2020 17:58 GMT
Norman Foster
Norman Foster (Getty Images)

A Spanish judge has ordered Norman Foster to testify as a witness in a multi-million euro embezzlement case or face arrest in Switzerland.  

Judge José de la Mata, who sits in the Audiencia Nacional, Spain's top criminal court, issued the order asking Swiss authorities to locate the distinguished architect in his adopted home.  

Lord Foster has been called as a witness in the case and is not implicated in any allegations of wrongdoing.  

Eight business people involved in an €80 million plan for a new judicial centre in Madrid which was never built face charges of embezzlement, prevarication, influence peddling and corporate crimes, which they deny.  

The judge first tried to contact Lord Foster in January and initially requested he gave evidence by video link from Britain.  

However, British authorities later informed Judge de la Mata that the 85-year-old was currently living in Switzerland.  

Owing to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Lord Foster was not able to travel back to the UK to testify from there.  

In the judge's order, which The Independent has seen, it asks the architect to testify via video conference on December 14.  

However, the order adds that if this request is met with resistance then Swiss police should arrest Lord Foster.  

The case relates to a plan to build the City of Justice in Madrid which started in 2006 but ended two years later.  

Foster + Partners, the company which the British peer set up, was paid €13.7 million for its part in the contract.  

Lord Foster is one of Britain's most distinguished architects who is known for his designs of the Millenium Bridge in London, the Reichstag in Berlin among others. He won the profession's highest award, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 1999.

Foster + Partners said in a statement: “Foster + Partners has been assisting the authorities with their investigation as a witness for the prosecution. We have already given evidence with a witness statement for the prosecution.  

“Our efforts have been frustrated by restrictions due to coronavirus. Lord Foster remains committed and available to assist and we continue to liaise with the Spanish authorities to make this happen.”  

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