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MPs consider legal action over Portcullis House leaks

Portcullis House in Westminster
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MPs are mulling legal action against the design and construction team behind Hopkins’ Portcullis House because of ongoing problems with cracks and leaks in the roof of the £235million office block

The use of legal action is understood to have been proposed by several MPs on the House of Commons Finance committee, according to reports in the Sun and Independent newspapers.

The claims follow confirmation by Houses of Parliament officials that a survey of the atrium roof would report this spring.

A spokeswoman for the Houses of Parliament described the press stories as ‘speculation’.

‘Once all of the required data has been collected, recommendations will be made on addressing the cause of previous roof panel fractures,’ she added.

‘Final costs have yet to be determined. Members of both houses will be kept informed about the need to carry out this very important work.’

Hopkins refused to comment on the newspaper reports because of its confidentiality agreement with the Houses of Parliament.

According to the two newspapers, the MPs who want Hopkins and the engineers Arup to be sued consider the action would be difficult as many years had passed since the problems started.

One Parliamentary source told them that the ‘tolerances’ between metal, wood, glass and supporting structures became ‘too tight’ with changes of the weather. ‘It is not just one pane of glass that cracks, there’s a lot of them. This could involve just altering those tolerances or it could be that we need an entirely new roof’.

AJ understands the scope of the House Of Parliament investigation will examine the role of all those involved in the project, including contractors and subcontractors.

Nearly £500,000 was set aside last year to tackle persistent problems with the glass atrium.

Portcullis House was opened in 2001 and was built to last for 200 years.

In the first year alone, 7,500 defects were reported in the office block, including loose door handles and cracked glass, according to a National Audit Office report in 2002, which examined its spiralling costs.

Despite the relatively high cost, some £7m was saved as contracts for the courtyard roof and some windows were let at prices below original forecasts.




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