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Police called in over Holyrood tender process

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SCOTTISH POLICE have been called in to investigate the process that led to the apppointment of contractor Bovis as construction manager on the £431M Scottish Parliament project .

MSP Fergus Ewing has filed a complaint with Borders and Lothian Police about the tender process following the publication of Lord Fraser's report into cost overruns at Holyrood.

Ewing has complained that Bovis was alone in being allowed to revise its tender price following its initial £6.2M tender.

'Bovis and only Bovis was allowed to adjust its total. Lord Fraser has indicated that this is an affront to fairness.

'There's no point in having tender rules if you then subvert the rules. You should allow others the same opportunity to negotiate, ' said Ewing.

Lord Fraser was appointed to determine how costs escalated on the project, from a £40M initial estimate.

His report, published last week, criticises civil servants for adopting a form of contract where there 'could be no fixed budget and a high degree of risk fell on the client'.

He also expressed concerns about aspects of Bovis' appointment as construction manager and project sponsor Barbara Doig's decision to consider Bovis in the final three ahead of a lower tenderer. Four firms bid for the construction manager role with contract values ranging from £4.8M to £6.2M.

In his report, Fraser says:

'She was unable to provide me with any satisfactory reason for her selection of Bovis to be readmitted to the process.'

He noted that Bovis' offer to provide a parent company guarantee (PCG) free of charge effectively cut the offer by £500,000. This ensured that the client would be reimbursed should the firm collapse. Competitors should also have had the chance to adjust bids, he said.

But Bovis said that there were no irregularities in the process.

'We were not invited to submit a revised bid. We did offer a PCG at no cost to the client. , ' said a spokesman.

Fraser's report acknowledges that Bovis comfortably outscored competitors in the last rounds of interviews and that price did not have to be the crucial factor.

Bovis said the rules clearly stated that 'most economically advantageous tender' should be accepted.

'The purpose of that is to make sure that the tender company submits a price but also has the experience, capability, resources and backing to carry out a project of that nature.

We feel that we fulfilled all the requirements under these terms, ' said the spokesman.

A police spokeswoman said their handling of Ewing's complaint was in the earliest stages and no decision had been taken as to whether to investigate further.

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