Multiplex QC claims Cleveland Bridge failed to fabricate and erect steelwork correctly because it lacked expertise.

Multiplex QC Roger Stewart yesterday accused Cleveland Bridge of lacking the expertise to carry out its Wembley steelwork properly, as Cleveland Bridge's first witness was called to the stand in the High Court trial.

Steven Baron became the first Cleveland Bridge witness to be called to the stand. Baron, the engineer who was largely responsible for the design of the Wembley steelwork for Cleveland Bridge, denied suggestions by Multiplex that Cleveland Bridge failed to fabricate and erect steelwork correctly because it lacked expertise on projects as complex as Wembley.

Stewart alleged that parts of Cleveland Bridge's tender assumptions for steelwork on the project were "grossly inadequate". He said: "Is it right to say that Cleveland Bridge doesn't have much experience of projects such as the erection of the bowl steel on Wembley…and doesn't have significant experience in relation to construction to moving roofs."

Baron insisted that the bowl steel required similar techniques to other projects carried out by Cleveland Bridge, and pointed out that no contractor he knew had much experience of moving roofs.

Multiplex claims that Cleveland Bridge's failure to fabricate the arch steelwork within specified tolerances was due to its own inability, and said it only began complaining about unclear information from Mott Stadium Consortium when it realised it was unable to provide steelwork within 10mm tolerances.

Roger Stewart said: "A request for further information from Cleveland Bridge was an attempt to see if they could get a relaxation of what they believed the contractual requirement to be."

Stewart suggested that the request (RFI) was a ploy to give CBUK time to "sort itself out", an allegation denied by Baron.

Meanwhile, Judge Justice Jackson said he eventually hoped to be able to deliver a verdict on a single day, but said ‘it seems sensible to allow for a second day." He also said it was likely there would be a number of follow up issues to resolve.

The trial continues.