The BBC is headed for a £400,000 High Court showdown with construction firm Galliford Try in a row over a huge water leak.

Water poured from a fifth floor water main through the ceilings of a newly built £11.6 million office block in Clarendon Road, Watford, causing massive damage.

Now the BBC is suing Galliford Try for damages and values its claim at more than £404,000.

The water cascaded down through ceilings at Meridien House when a compression fitting on a water main failed, according to a High Court writ.

Galliford Try had finished work on the six storey office block by September 2002, and Securicor Guarding provided security at the site until tenants could be found, the writ says.

But two years later, when the property was still empty, a power cut affected the office block and 1,100 other nearby properties, the writ says. Securicor’s Gareth Lewis contacted the electricity suppliers, and the power was restored at around 9.30pm on May 17 2004.

Soon afterwards, he noticed water dripping from the reception area ceiling, and when he investigated, he found water dripping from all the ceilings, the court will hear. The water supply was turned off almost two hours later.

A compression fitting on the water main in the men’s toilets on the fifth floor had caused the leak, the writ says. Tests showed that the olive in the pipe fitting had not been properly tightened, and that the fitting had been in imminent danger of failure since it had been installed.

The BBC Pension Trust accuses Galliford Try of negligence and breach of contract, and says workmen failed to tighten the capping nut on the fitting, failed to ensure the olive was compressed, failed to check it, and failed to use materials and workmanship of the quality and standards needed. The company also failed to carry out the contract works in a proper and workmanlike manner, failed to carry out the works with reasonable care and skill, and failed to install the compression fitting correctly, the writ says.

The flood caused extensive damage, and water rushed down as far as the basement, damaging plasterwork, decorations, carpet tiles, carpeting, veneered finishes, ceiling tiles, mechanical and electrical services, the lift, air conditioning and heating plant, and plaster, limestone floor tiles and artwork in the reception area.

Remedial work cost £404,149.27, the writ says. The BBC is also seeking repayment of the fees charged by the architect Sheppard Robson, mechanical and electrical engineers Rybka, and planning supervisors Knight Frank but a figure for this is not yet available.