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Steel firm blames designs for Wembley delay

The man in charge of building Wembley Stadium for Multiplex said it ignored complaints from Cleveland Bridge that its work on the venue was being “handicapped” by design changes because the steelwork contractor did not provide any evidence to prove its claim.

Project director Ashley Muldoon, now Multiplex’s managing director of its UK construction business, said CBUK “did nothing to prove their case” that its work was being slowed by design changes.

The second High Court trial between the pair will decide how much they owe each other after the first one back in 2006 ruled that CBUK repudiated its contract when it walked off site back in August 2004.

Multiplex has subsequently threatened to launch legal action against stadium designer Mott MacDonald, claiming that its breaches cost the company £253 million.

Adrian Williamson QC for CBUK said his client had suffered delays because it was “being handicapped by the number of changes and erratic information”.

Mr Muldoon replied: “That’s what they put forward but they put a lot of things forward without fact. Motts assured us there were no issues.”

Mr Williamson referred to Multiplex’s potential claim against Mott MacDonald and accused it of being “glaringly inconsistent” in its allegations against CBUK and Mott MacDonald.

The Australian firm, now owned by Canadian asset management company Brookfield, claims the pair contributed to Wembley opening more than a year later than originally planned.

Mr Williamson added: “In the claim against Mott MacDonald, three reasons are given for the delay: 1. repudiation; 2. CBUK leaving the site; and 3. [CBUK’s] poor performance. But in this claim [repudiation is] the sole reason given."

But Mr Muldoon replied: “Motts’ claim refers to Motts’ issues. There is a clear delay as a result of the repudiation by CBUK.”

When asked whether the steel erection could have also been delayed by other trades, Mr Muldoon said: “Not in the case of what was occurring on site.”

But Mr Williamson said that, according to Mr Muldoon’s board reports, the project was on track for completion on schedule until early 2005 – months after CBUK had walked off site.

The Multiplex director also said there was no contractually agreed programme in place with replacement steel firm Hollandia when it began work on the venue.

And Mr Muldoon added that CBUK’s repudiation had caused a “debacle” because Hollandia had been unable to access missing and incorrectly tagged steel required for construction.

The trial before Mr Justice Jackson continues.