Labour questions government’s lack of success from negotiations with Abu Dhabi government over millions owed to architect

Ministers have stepped in to try and secure the future of financially troubled architect Austin-Smith:Lord by negotiating the payment of massive debts from the Abu Dhabi government.

Building understands foreign minister Alistair Burt has been involved in negotiations with the Abu Dhabi government at the highest level, including the Abu Dhabi royal family.

Austin-Smith:Lord (ASL) is due to meet with its creditors today to discuss how it will pay back debts which have mounted following outstanding fees from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage for work on its Qasr al-Hosn cultural quarter project in the centre of the city.

ASL was owed £11.3m, but was given a payment of £2.4m two weeks ago.

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth office said: “We have raised it at the highest levels in Abu Dhabi including through a range of ministers.”

However, Labour has questioned the effort that Burt and others are making. Shadow foreign minister Ian Lucas said: “I don’t know what they are doing at the moment but clearly it has not been resolved. We need to have some progress made.”

He said he expected ministers to exert diplomatic pressure on the Abu Dhabi government to resolve the situation.

“I would hope they are giving this top priority,” he added.

The firm is currently in negotiations with another construction industry company over moves including a potential takeover to save it from financial turmoil.

ASL’s creditors include engineer Arup which it owes almost £4m and project manager Buro Four who are owed £700,000.