BBC rejects new bid to secure Holyrood tapes

McCormick: Fraser Inquiry different from Hutton

BBC Scotland controller John McCormick has rejected a fresh attempt to make the corporation hand over unseen footage to the Lord Fraser Inquiry into the building of the new Scottish parliament at Holyrood.

His rejection follows a new initiative by Fraser, who is heading the inquiry into the huge overspend on the project.

It has emerged that Fraser has gone over the heads of BBC Scotland managers and written to the new acting chairman of the BBC, Lord Ryder.

A spokesman for the inquiry confirmed the approach was made to Ryder “in a further attempt to gain access to a potential source of evidence for the inquiry”.

Fraser is demanding the BBC give the same level of co-operation to his inquiry as it have Lord Hutton.

Untransmitted material from an interview with Dr David Kelly for a Panorma programme was handed over to the Hutton Inquiry, and Fraser has questioned why the same principle should not apply to him.

Fraser is especially keen to secure access to interviews with Donald Dewar, the former First Minister, and Enric Miralles, the architect of the building.

However, McCormick, who retires from his post in April, said he saw no equivalence between the two cases.

“We have always made a clear distinction between the Hutton Inquiry and the Holyrood inquiry. The BBC was at the very core of the Hutton Inquiry – its actions, and its management procedures, were examined by Lord Hutton.

“The BBC and BBC Scotland has got nothing to do with the building of the Scottish Parliament,” said McCormick. “That is the clear distinction between the two.” McCormick has repeatedly pointed out that the interviewees, including Dewar and Miralles, who have both since died, were promised the footage would not be shown until after the building was completed.

BBC Scotland has always maintained it would be breaking strict editorial and ethical guidelines if it handed over the tapes before the broadcast.

Former BBC director general Greg Dyke had given his full and unequivocal backing to BBC Scotland in its refusal to hand over the tapes, which were made for the documentary The Gathering Place, made by Wark Clements, the company part-owned by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark.

By Hamish Mackay

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