Davis Langdon partner Rob Smith says the consultant repeatedly warned Holyrood client of spiralling costs

Rob Smith, QS Davis Langdon’s senior partner, has hit back at criticism in Lord Fraser’s report over his firm’s handling of the Scottish parliament building fiasco.

The Fraser report, published last week, outlined a catalogue of errors on the Holyrood project including criticism of the construction manager Bovis Lend Lease, civil servants, designers and the procurement process.

Davis Langdon came under particular criticism for its involvement in the parliament building’s foyer roof, the cost of which rose from £1.5m to £7.4m.

The report said: “While my primary criticism is with the architect, DL might also have taken a more proactive role in identifying that designs were being developed outwith the cost plan and drawing that to the attention of the client.”

However, in a formal response to Building Smith said that, as pointed out to the Fraser inquiry, it was made clear to the client’s project manager Alan Ezzi that the roof could not be delivered for the budget. Smith added that Ezzi requested that an alternative design should be produced that was more attuned to budget but no such design was ever produced. Smith said: “We do not know why, and we had no power to insist that alternatives were produced – this being the prerogative of the client and his project manager.”

We had no power to insist that alternatives were produced

Rob Smith, Davis Langdon

Smith said Davis Langdon advised that the concept under development would be more than three times as expensive as the budget allowance at the client’s progress meeting, some six months before a provisional order was placed for the roof.

Smith said: “As we put it to the inquiry, in the absence of alternative ideas being put forward, and no instructions having been issued by the client to make savings, we believe that we were, and are, entitled to assume that there was no enthusiasm on the part of the client body for the much simpler solution assumed by the budget.”

Smith added that Davis Langdon did not know what else it could have done in the situation it faced. He said: “But we stand as part of the team, including the client, and we must therefore be prepared to share the team’s medicine.”