Security Gaffe Adds Millions to the Cost of Parliament; MI5 Demands Holyrood Redesign to Correct Safety Errors
Aitken, Mark, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)
Byline: MARK AITKEN
VITAL security and antiterrorism measures are set to add further millions to the cost of Scotland's troubled parliament building, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
In the latest embarrassment for the Holyrood project, security experts and architects last night revealed the extra work should have been included in the original plans.
The blunder was exposed during a sweep of the Edinburgh site by MI5 and police officers, who immediately informed project chiefs of the need to make the walls, roofs and windows blast-proof.
Last night Scottish parliament officials claimed the extra measures for the building, which is already expected to cost more than [pound]280million, were needed in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York last year.
More than a million pounds has already been spent on security for Queensberry House - the historic mansion at the heart of the Holyrood complex - which has been reinforced with steel ring beams.
The extra cost of security is the latest in a catalogue of setbacks and scandals involving the building which is set to cost taxpayers more than seven times the original estimate.
Last night antiterrorist expert Peter Power said: 'There are very few prestigious buildings without security written in at the planning stage. This is not good practice. Someone has not done their research.' Mr Power said the parliament building could be a target for an organisation such as the Scottish National Liberation Army.
The SNLA has admitted responsibility in the past for a number of incidents involving explosives and letter bombs and was recently suspected of sending MSPs packages containing dangerous chemicals disguised as aromatherapy kits.
Professor Paul Wilkinson, director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrews University, said: 'There has been a heightened threat of terrorism since September 11 and many public buildings are having to look at their security measures.
'It is right that the Scottish parliament should do that but I would be surprised if these security measures were not put in before.
'If you are designing a major public building these days, you can't always judge by past experience. You have to consider possible future events.
'This is a very important and expensive building and, in the world we live in now, such a building has to have some attention to measures to minimise the danger from a terrorist attack.' Peter Wilson, the Edinburghbased director of the Manifesto Foundation for Architecture, said: 'The fact that the Scottish parliament is stating that new security measures are needed but not saying what they are or what the costs will be, simply allows for the next report on the progress of the parliament to hide budget overspends. …