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MSP Neil starts Scottish Parliament row at ICE Edinburgh dinner


A SENIOR SCOTTISH parliamentarian provoked outrage at the ICE East of Scotland dinner last week by repeatedly blaming contractor Balfour Beatty for the inflated cost of the new Scottish Parliament building.

MSP Alex Neil mistakenly singled out the contractor in a forceful attack during his speech to 500 guests at the annual event.

Balfour Beatty was not involved in the project, on which costs soared from £40M at tender to £431M on opening earlier this year. The contractor on the project was actually Bovis Lend Lease.

A Balfour Beatty director was so outraged by Neil's comments that he approached the top table to demand a public apology.

ICE East of Scotland chairman Brian Cooper was forced to mediate between the parties.

'Alex mentioned the wrong contractor [for the parliament building] but accepted he'd made a mistake and admitted that he'd been briefed incorrectly, ' said ICE East of Scotland chairman Brian Cooper.

'Fortunately, the whole audience knew who was actually involved with the parliament building, ' said Cooper.

This week Balfour Beatty declined to comment on the incident. Neil was unavailable for comment as NCE went to press.

Neil is deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament cross-party group for construction.

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