The BBC came in for criticism in Lord Fraser’s report on his inquiry into the Holyrood building housing Scotland’s new Parliament.
Lord Fraser condemned BBC Scotland for failing to co-operate fully by refusing to hand over interviews with former First Minister, Donald Dewar and architect Eric Miralles.
The interviews were recorded for a documentary – The Gathering Place- which will be broadcast later this year, or early in 2005.
Lord Fraser claimed that his inquiry could not be considered closed until he had viewed the 200 hours of footage for the documentary.
The inquiry was into why the new Parliament building’s cost soared from £50 million to £431 million and completed three years behind schedule.
Lord Fraser said he had wanted to view the tapes to make sure that neither Dewar nor Miralles contradicted any other evidence.
“It is a matter of dismay to me, and I understand this view to be shared by the first minister and presiding officer, that the BBC and/or Wark Clements have declined to allow me other than the most restricted access to tapes:” The documentary is being made by Wark Clements, the independent production company. The company is now called IWC since its merger with Ideal World.
Lord Fraser also questioned the reasons given by the BBC for refusing to hand over the tapes. The corporation had claimed it had given contractual guarantees to interviewees that their thoughts would not be revealed until the film was broadcast.
However, Lord Fraser bluntly stated that “the evidence before the inquiry did not support that”.
Reporters expose security lapses
Security at Holyrood is to be reviewed after reporters from two Scottish dailies roamed the high-security building unchallenged.
The Scotsman had lifted the lid on the lax security when, on three separate occasions, its non-accredited journalists were able to gain access to the building unchallenged. Two Scottish Sun journalists gained access to the new Holyrood complex dressed as workmen.
They got as far as the outer parliamentary office of First Minister Jack McConnell before being stopped by his staff.
McConnell has issued an ultimatum to security chiefs to get their act together before the Queen opens the building on October 9.
By Hamish Mackay