Edwina Hart, the Welsh Assembly politician who cannot bear to be proved wrong, and has even greater difficulty apologising when she is, was on typical form last week. She was trying to play down the comprehensive rejection of most of the disgraceful legal claim brought by the assembly against Richard Rogers Partnership in respect of the firm's design for its new building. This was in response to the practice's claim for unpaid fees. You can read the details on the news pages (including a pretty dignified response from RRP). But it is the nastiness of the action and its timing brought by Hart and her officials which is particularly offensive. As Astragal hears it, the assembly claimed more than £6 million damages from the practice - and lodged the claim with the adjudicator on Christmas Eve last year, giving the firm a mere 10 days to mount a comprehensive response. It did so and won the bulk of its case. The assembly is having to pay most of the outstanding fees, and the vast majority of the adjudicator's costs.
This proves that RIBA president Paul Hyett was correct to take up the cudgels on the practice's behalf, not least because the people of Wales have been badly let down by their politicians in general and Hart in particular. The case stinks. The piquant thing, if it were not so disgusting, is that the assembly is using the Rogers' designs as the basis for an OJEC competition. Is that a 'Dumbing Down' sign I see before me?