CBUK boss says steel firm discussed strategy to contact Tony Blair over problems at Wembley.
Senior Cleveland Bridge directors tried to appeal to Tony Blair and Alan Milburn to resolve the firm's problems with Multiplex on Wembley, it emerged in the High Court yesterday.
The revelation that CBUK directors discussed a strategy to involve Blair and Milburn in the Wembley dispute was made by Cleveland Bridge managing director Brian Rogan under cross examination from Multiplex QC Roger Stewart.
It is unclear whether Blair met Cleveland Bridge representatives over the growing crisis on the stadium, but the court heard that Cleveland Bridge met Alan Milburn to ask him to question Multiplex's dealings with the firm on the project.
Brian Rogan acknowledged that directors discussed exploring a "political angle through Alan Milburn and Tony Blair" in relation to issues it was having with Multiplex after being shown board minutes of the discussion. Alan Milburn is MP for Darlington, the home of Cleveland Bridge's steelworks, and Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency takes in the company's Yarm Road base.
Brian Rogan acknowledged that Cleveland Bridge met Alan Milburn after CBUK agreed the Heads of Agreement with Multiplex in 2004 to discuss redundancies CBUK was forced to make as a result of losing part of its steelwork contract.
Multiplex QC Roger Stewart also claimed that CBUK held a further meeting with Milburn, at which "Milburn was asked to ask questions about the manner of termination of Cleveland Bridge's contract." He alleged the meeting was designed to put pressure on Multiplex. Brian Rogan said he was not aware of that meeting.
In an intense exchange between the parties, Brian Rogan repeatedly attacked Multiplex's management of Wembley as "out of control". He said: "In 35 years in construction I have never been involved in a project so badly out of control and so badly mismanaged by the main contractor".
He also defended Cleveland Bridge's refusal to give its original tender information to Multiplex when claiming for compensation for acceleration measures. He said: "My belief is that however much information we gave them they had no intention of being fair and reasonable."
"If we'd given them our tender, they would have found some way of using it against us…They were putting every obstacle they could in the way to avoid paying accelerated payments."
Rogan also revealed that he had told Ashley Muldoon in December 2003 that he was prepared to quit Cleveland Bridge over rows on the project.
The trial continues.