Wembley accuses officials of 'oppressive litigation' in failed court action over pitch The 'oppressive litigation' used by the government in its failed attempt to hold Hong Kong Stadium's former management firm liable for a defective pitch should result in it footing the entire legal bill, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. The submission came as Wembley International (HK) and its parent company, Wembley Plc, argued for indemnity costs over the breach of contract claim. Last March, Mr Justice William Stone absolved Wembley of any wrongdoing and instead criticised the government's tactics. At the time, he said: 'This has not been attractive litigation. The case as mounted by the government sought to level every possible allegation which could be identified against the former manager of the stadium. 'The manner in which this case has been conducted strikes me as ill-considered at best and, at worst, little short of oppressive. 'A defendant with lesser resources may well have been forced to fold its tent and creep away.' He said the government had taken the unusual step of pursuing compensation and seeking a court declaration that termination of the contract was justified. Wembley signed a 10-year agreement to manage the $850 million stadium in March 1994 but the deal was terminated in May 1998. The government had sought unspecified damages for 'serious or persistent breach of its obligations' in alleging Wembley had mismanaged the stadium and its pitch. Instead, the judge allowed Wembley's counterclaim for wrongful termination of the management agreement by the then Urban Council and awarded $21,855,702. Yesterday, counsel for Wembley, Adrian Huggins SC, said the litigation had been 'cynical' and 'politically motivated'. He said before the case, those on the opposing side had publicly stated his clients were 'dishonest' and had taken kickbacks for mismanaging the stadium. 'You can imagine the feeling ... of having to come to trial and having things like that said about them,' he said, adding 'litigation is a very anxious business'. He said the litigation had taken more than five years to reach the courtroom. He also pointed to the fact the government's 'kitchen sink' approach to include dozens of baseless complaints had been a huge waste of time given the fact they were abandoned in the first stage of the trial. 'We ask that we should not suffer ... after finally being vindicated and not have part of the fruits of our success removed in not taking account of the way we have been treated,' he said. 'Such oppressive litigation clearly deserves a robust order for indemnity costs.' But John Griffiths SC, for the government, said the protagonists were 'both big boys'. He said the Urban Council and the Department of Justice 'bore in mind' they were public authorities responsible to the elected representatives of Hong Kong for the guardianship of the people's money and would not have wasted any of it with unnecessary legalities. Mr Justice Stone adjourned his ruling.