Mr Justice Jackson steams to the head of the judging pack, Michael Thirkettle hurtles around the countryside on a motorbike, while Peter Millett and Stef Stefanou’s car stay exactly where they are

The highest justice in the land

As the legal wrangles between Multiplex and Wembley National Stadium Limited came to an abrupt end last week, it appears that one person’s reputation has actually been bolstered by the whole sorry saga. Mr Justice Jackson, the judge in charge of the case, was last week voted by readers of The Lawyer as one of the top five judges in the country.

Commended for his work on the Wembley disputes, he was described as “reviving the beleaguered Technology and Construction Court”. A pity, then, that his three-year tenure at the TCC ends next summer.

I wonder if this news will trigger a rush of claims from disgruntled parties eager to have their case heard before his departure.

The other Mr Millett

It’s good to hear that the name Millett still rings around Bovis towers. Questions had been asked as to whether Peter Millett, the younger brother of departed chief executive Jason, would remain at the contractor once the new management arrived from Australia. However, I am informed that the project director will stay and take the opportunity to step out of his brother’s shadow.

Ray moves in to haulage

John Doyle chairman Stef Stefanou had a nasty surprise in Leeds last week, where he was in town celebrating the completion of Laing O’Rourke’s restoration of the Leeds Grand theatre. As he walked back to his car, which he had injudiciously left double-parked on a yellow line, he became aware of a strap across its bonnet and was seized by the fear that over-zealous traffic wardens were about to haul it away.

It wasn’t until he got up close that he discovered the strap was in fact a Laing O’Rourke banner and sash. Apparently, his old friend Ray O’Rourke had spotted Stef’s car and felt it needed a bit of decoration …

Thirkettle the scratcher
Credit: Scott Garrett

Thirkettle the scratcher

“I’d rather go scratching than go riding on a race course,” McBains Cooper boss Michael Thirkettle informs me. No, he’s not talking about the reaction to an unfortunate skin condition. Scratching is the term given to riding your motorbike at high speeds around the country for fun. Thirkettle, a well-known bike enthusiast, can apparently be seen racing around the Countryside in his “red, white and black leathers”. It’s enough to bring you out in a rash.

The Zaha hoo-ha

Olympic chief Jack Lemley has finally spilled the beans on the saga of Zaha Hadid’s aquatics centre. It goes like this: culture minister Tessa Jowell ordered the Olympic Delivery Authority to reduce costs on the design-led scheme. Why? Because, according to Lemley, it would have cost the taxpayer £10m a year just to keep the doors open once the Games were over.

The ODA dutifully wrote a new brief, but naughty Zaha came back with exactly the same design. Lemley then hauled Hadid in and gave her two weeks to adjust the design or go the way of the Paris bid. And, not surprisingly, Hadid agreed.


I don’t know, those planners only have one thing on their mind … At the Home Builders Federation conference, the body’s planning guru Andrew Whitaker was saying how developers should get their schemes into the planning process as early as possible, known in government jargon as “frontloading”.

“You have to be careful when you tap that into Google,” chuckled Whitaker, with the type of knowing smirk once favoured by Frankie Howerd. Well, Andrew, I’ve tried, and all I get are pictures of washing machines and CD players.