Documents reveal David Steel's attempt to block Fraser Inquiry into Holyrood project

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that former presiding officer Sir David Steel tried to block First Minister Jack McConnell's moves to set up the Fraser Inquiry into the Holyrood project.

Two days before Steel handed over the role of presiding officer to his successor George Reid, he wrote to McConnell arguing that the best approach would be to ask the Auditor General to look into the project. Steel maintained that it was "essential" that any new review did not start until work on the building had been completed. However, the First Minister turned down Steel's request for a meeting on the subject and chose instead to have talks with George Reid.

Margo MacDonald, one of the most vociferous critics of the Holyrood project, said she was not surprised that Steel and the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, which was chaired by Reid, had resisted the plans for the Fraser inquiry. She said: "We now know they had a great deal to hide. The inefficiency and lack of clear managerial direction did not reflect well on either the corporate body or David Steel."

David Steel tried to block probe into Holyrood fiasco (Evening News, 24 August 2005)