Angry clergy at a Kent church are suing contractor RMD Kwikform for £355,000 after its scaffolding damaged the church tower.

High winds of more than 60 knots two years ago caused scaffolding around St George the Martyr in Ramsgate to twist, damaging a 40 m high lantern tower.

In the writ, the vicar and churchwardens allege that the contractor breached its duty of care to avoid damaging the building and failed to carry out adequate calculations on wind speed.

The church, an 1827 grade I-listed building, was undergoing £700,000 worth of repair work.

RMD paid unnamed subcontractors more than £78,000 to erect scaffolding for repairs to the tower in December 2000, but stonemasons working on it later noticed the scaffolding had moved and was touching the tower, the writ says.

Strong winds in February 2002 caused the scaffolding to strike the masonry, damaging stonework and displacing steel beams.

A spokesperson for RMD said the firm hoped to resolve the dispute before it came to court.