Holyrood TV footage will be released to Fraser inquiry

By Hamish Mackay

The Lord Fraser inquiry into the new Scottish parliament building at
Holyrood is to be given full access to footage of BBC Scotland’s
controversial documentary series into the saga.

The decision came in a surprise announcement from Alan Clements of
Glasgow-based independent TV production company Wark Clements (now IWC
Media).

The tapes, shot for The Gathering Place series, contain
interviews with the late First Minister Donald Dewar and Holyrood
architect Enric Miralles which Lord Fraser insisted could shed
invaluable insight into why the £431 million building was ten times
over budget.

BBC Scotland, which currently holds the copyright,
had repeatedly refused to hand over the tapes to the inquiry. It
claimed disclosure would break its producers’

guidelines of not
handing over untransmitted footage, and assurances given to some of the
interviewees that nothing would be broadcast until the building was
completed.

However, Clements has moved to resolve the impasse by
announcing that when the legal rights are transferred to IWC Media,
once the documentary series is broadcast this month, his company will
grant full access to the disputed interviews.

Clements said:
“After the first broadcast of the series I am happy to give the full
interviews with Dewar and Miralles to the Fraser inquiry and host a
press showing of the same tapes so that no further conspiracy theories
can take root.”

Clements emphasised that neither he nor his wife
and business partner, Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark, had seen any of
the 200 hours of footage shot for the series.

He agreed that Wark
had sat on the panel which chose Miralles as the architect for the
project, but she had received neither fees nor expenses and just “felt
honoured to be asked”.

His company had pitched the idea of a
documentary to the BBC, and, as far as he was aware, no other
independent company or in-house producer had suggested a similar idea.

“Once
it became clear that the building would provoke controversy, Kirsty
relinquished any role in producing The Gathering Place .

“To this day she has not seen a single tape. Neither have I.”

John
Campbell, QC, who acted for the Crown at the inquiry, said he wished
BBC Scotland had complied with the “simple request” of a private
viewing, but added: “Lord Fraser will nonetheless consider the benefits
to his investigation of any material the producers decide to make
available.”

The first of The Gathering Place ‘s four one-hour
slots was scheduled to be shown on BBC 2 this Thursday (10 March) and
the remaining three programmes will be screened on 15, 17 and 22 March.

The programmes are directed by filmmaker and producer Stuart Greig.

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