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Parliament is Donald's memorial to himself.. Holyrood could only have been chosen by a Glaswegian; LIB DEM'S AMAZING ATTACK ON DEWAR Gorrie says wrong site was picked.

Byline: By Magnus Gardham

LIB DEM MSP Donald Gorrie launched a scathing attack on Donald Dewar yesterday, claiming the former First Minister saw Holyrood as his own memorial.

He said nothing angered him more during his long political career than Dewar's decision to start work on Holyrood before parliament was up and running.

He told Lord Fraser's inquiry: 'There was a risk that someone in his position confused what is good for Scoland with what is good as a memorial for Donald Dewar.'

He added: 'My own view is that Holyrood is the wrong site.

'At the time, I had never met anyone in Edinburgh who thought it was right.

'Only a Glaswegian would have chosen it.'

And he suggested: 'I think if he was looking down on proceedings he might think hemade a bad decision.'

The inquiry into the building's pounds 431million cost has already heard criticism of Dewar's decision to start on Holyrood long before MSPs were elected in June 1999.

The site, architect and risky 'contract management' method were all decided while Dewar was in charge.

But Gorrie's outburst was the most personal attack so far aimed at the reputation of the man dubbed Father of the Nation.

Gorrie, a Central Scotland list MSP, tried twice,in1999and2000, to have the project put on hold.

But he narrowly lost both parliamentary votes and accused Dewar of deliberately personalising the issue to ensure Labour MSPs backed him.

He claimed: 'I think it was seen by a lot of people as a vote of confidence in Donald Dewar.'

The result, said Gorrie, was MSPs voting for a plan which bore no relation to what was required. Original estimates for space, for example, were 80 per cent out.

He went on: 'The whole brief was totally flawed.

'It's my personal view that most of the harm was done before the parliament took office.

'The design might be highly artistic but there are still changes being made to it now. No one knows how they are going to do various things.'

Inquiry QC John Campbell said Gorrie's attack 'flew in the face' of other evidence about Dewar.

Gestures He said the picture of Dewar, who died in2000,was of someone 'not given to grandiose artistic gestures'.

But Gorrie said: 'Donald Dewar saw it as part of being the first First Minister of Scotland to deliver a parliament to Scotland.

'I find that totally objectionable. Nothing in politics has enraged me more than that one person, however august, should decide where the parliament should be.'

He said the costs and time-tables which MSPs were asked to vote on in 1999 and 2000 were 'dishonest or incompetent'.

In 1999, MSPs were told the cost was pounds 109million and the following year, they were told pounds 195million.

Gorrie said the figures were 'bunkum'.

He added: 'If you are building a house you can have an ordinary house or get an architect to build something like the Brighton Pavilion.

'The Brighton Pavilion will look very nice but it will cost a lot of money and the people running this thing had not realised that from the start and I find that unbelievable.'

Earlier, the inquiry heard from Lewis Macdonald, who chaired the Holyrood Progress Group after they were set up in June 2000 to make day-to-day decisions on the project.

He said Dewar was right to press ahead.

Macdonald, now deputy enterprise minister, said: 'If the process of identifying the site had been left to June 1999 we would be further away from completion at this stage.'


BLAST: MSP; Donald Gorrie
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 4, 2004
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