In week two of Wembley trial, CBUK lawyer accuses Multiplex bosses of giving inaccurate witness reports
Cleveland Bridge's counsel this week accused Multiplex directors Matt Stagg and Ashley Muldoon of lying in their witness statements to discredit CBUK.
Hugh Tomlinson accused the pair of giving inaccurate witness statements in their submissions to the court. He said they had done so in order to "paint CBUK in a bad light by saying they were dragging their feet" over signing the supplementary agreement.
Multiplex alleges that Cleveland Bridge put off signing the agreement, which was to give a new fixed price for the remainder of the steelwork, in order to extend its temporary cost-plus arrangement on the project.
Cleveland Bridge claims it was pushing to agree a deal but that Multiplex resisted, giving it time to formulate its "Armageddon plan" to force Cleveland Bridge off the site and find a replacement contractor.
Both Muldoon and Stagg said Multiplex presented Cleveland Bridge with a draft on 26 February, and the steel subcontractor took a long time to reply.
But Tomlinson responded that Cleveland Bridge had not received a draft by 10 March.
Tomlinson also described Multiplex construction director Matt Stagg's assertion that Multiplex never agreed a "final and binding" figure for parts of Cleveland Bridge's work on Wembley as "nonsense".
Cleveland Bridge claims that it agreed a final figure of £32.66m with Multiplex for work carried
out to 15 February 2004, which Multiplex later reneged on as part of the Armageddon plan.
Multiplex says that figure was intended only for "cash flow", and was always subject to "clawback".
However, the Cleveland Bridge lawyer showed Stagg a Multiplex draft of an agreement between the two parties aimed at resolving the dispute, which stated: "The value prepared by the contractors shall be accepted as final and binding on parties, except as modified by an independent QS."
I thought we would end up in Armageddon, which means total war and that’s where we are
Matt Stagg, Multiplex
Although the wording was later altered, Tomlinson claimed that this showed Multiplex intended the £32.66m to be unchangeable.
When asked to explain the words "final and binding", Stagg replied: "I don't understand what those words mean." He insisted that the amount was intended as an interim progress payment and could therefore be altered at a later date.
Stagg also maintained that Armageddon was a contingency plan, but admitted he always feared it would happen. He said: "I thought we would end up in Armageddon, which means total war, and that's where we are."
At the court on Wednesday it was disclosed that design changes on Wembley stadium were causing such lengthy delays by December 2003 that Multiplex ordered a design freeze on the project.
Four Multiplex witnesses had been called to the stand in the £50m battle between the contractor and Cleveland Bridge as Building went to press. Exchanges centred on the impact of design changes on Cleveland Bridge's work, and on whether Multiplex was justified in revaluing parts of Cleveland Bridge's work from a previously agreed figure of £32.66m.
Tomlinson claimed that over the course of the project changes had been made to 11% of all materials delivered to the site, which he claimed was two or three times the normal amount for a project of that size.
He said this entitled Cleveland Bridge to time and financial compensation.
Ranald McGregor, Multiplex project manager and second in command to Ashley Muldoon, said he could not confirm the figures but said it was "normal on projects to have design changes". However, he acknowledged that Multiplex had announced a design freeze in December 2003, although changes were still made after that date.
McGregor said: "It was an attempt to significantly reduce the amount of changes. There was no way anybody could guarantee there would be no changes after that date."
The trial continues.