BBC Scotland stands firm over Holyrood tapes

The imbroglio over the stand-off between BBC Scotland and the Lord Fraser Inquiry into the massive cash overrun on the new Scottish Parliament building continues unabated.

Independent MSP and former broadcaster Margo Macdonald has lodged a Scottish Parliament motion calling for the BBC to be “required” to hand over the contested Holyrood tapes under Section 23 of the Scotland Act. The act empowers the Parliament to “require any person… to produce documents in his custody or in his control” or face a range of sanctions from fines of up to £5,000 or three months in prison.

To come into effect, the motion would have to be called for debate by the parliamentary bureau, and then passed by MSPs. Macdonald declared: “The Parliament has to ensure that the Fraser Inquiry is not impeded in any way.”

Meanwhile, BBC Scotland controller John McCormick has denied in an exclusive article in the Sunday Herald that the BBC had offered to let Lord Fraser see the tapes in private.

He said the BBC’s position remained that it was unwilling to voluntarily hand over the tapes to the inquiry because around 80 interviewees had been promised the material would stay under wraps until the building was completed. The material was gathered for a documentary on the new building being produced by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark and her husband Alan Clements.

McCormick said: “So long as it remains open to us within the law, we intend to stand by our promises to contributors.”

By Hamish Mackay

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