Edinburgh tram lawyer gave false information to the council

TRAM firm TIE gave false information to the council about the implications of the contract they were about to sign for the project, TIE's lawyer has admitted.

Wednesday, 11th October 2017, 6:05 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 8:42 pm
Andrew Fitchie leaving the tram enquiry today.

Andrew Fitchie acknowledged that reports presented to the council did not reflect the true picture of the risk which was built into a key part of the contract drawn up with the consortium building Edinburgh’s new tramline.

And he admitted he had knowingly allowed the false information to be given to the council shortly before the contract was signed in May 2008.

Mr Fitchie, who was seconded to TIE from law firm DLA Piper, told the tram inquiry he had given TIE advice on how provisions negotiated in Schedule Part 4 of the contract would allow the contractors to demand more money when there were changes.

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An Edinburgh tram on Princes Street

Nevertheless he allowed reports to go to the council which claimed there had been no shift in risk since October 2007.

He recalled a meeting - immediately after he had met TIE chief executive Willie Gallagher about his £50,000 bonus - when he said he had repeated the advice.

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“Present at the meeting were Steven Bell, Geoff Gilbert, Jim McEwan, Denis Murray and possibly Graeme Bisset. They didn’t like the advice i was giving. And I must stress the individuals receiving that advice in TIE had been the people who were negotiating Schedule Part 4 on their own all the way through this period from January 2008 until effective closeout in March.”

An Edinburgh tram on Princes Street

Inquiry counsel Jonathan Lake asked him: “Going back to May 2008 then you would have been aware that they were knowingly providing false information to the council?”

Mr Fitchie said: “I would hesitate to go as strong as that. I agree the information in these reports was deficient.”

Lord Hardie intervened and said: “It ‘s more than deficient, it wasn’t accurate, it wasn’t true, so it was false.”

Mr Fitchie agreed.

Mr Lake said: “You hesitate there because you know the legal significance of knowingly providing false information to someone, don’t you? It amounts to fraud doesn’t it?

“And you were aware of that in May 2008, you were aware that’s what was happening?”

Mr Fitchie said he had allowed the information to go to the council.

Lord Hardie said: “Does it not follow that you knowingly permitted this to be submitted to the council in the knowledge it was false.”

Mr Fitchie said: “Yes.”