Olympics chaos – G4S to face penalties

Following the Commons’ home affairs select committee inquiry with G4S Chief Executive Nick Buckles, there are chances the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson will activate ‘penalty clauses’ after the private security firm failed to provide enough security guards.

Robertson said the government is determined to recoup money from the contract in light of events that have transpired in the past two weeks, but denied any rumours of his resignation saying ‘stability’ was needed to ensure the Olympics are safe and secure.

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Yesterday, Buckles insisted on claiming the management fee of £57 million, when questioned by Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chaired the Home Affairs committee.

‘Frankly I find that astonishing’, said Vaz.

Buckles said, ” We still expect to deliver a significant amount of staff.”

With less than ten days to the London 2012 Olympics, the world’s largest security group has come under intense scrutiny after alerting the Members of the Parliament two weeks ago about its inability to meet the required numbers of security workforce.

At the inquiry yesterday afternoon, several questions were raised about the company’s recruitment procedure, lack of communication and follow up procedures, internal systems failures , lack of staff attendance – much of which Buckles was not aware of and was only brought to his attention two weeks ago, while on holiday.

Not surprisingly, many of the members of the committee were infuriated  when Buckles said he would claim the management fee for the project. Another member of the committee said the entire G4S security operation was a shambles. To which Buckles conceded, “I cannot disagree more.”

At times it seemed like Buckles was making the answers or deciding the course of action as questions were thrown at him from members of the Select Committee. Vaz asked him, “Is this a decision you are making now?” To which Buckles insisted, “This is a very unique operation.”

As a result of the shortcomings on delivery of the required number of security forces, Buckles agreed an additional compensation for military and armed forces. All in all the company which set out to make an initial profit of 10 million after winning the contract with LOCOG is now estimating losses between £35 – 50 million, issued in a press statement yesterday.

Buckles tried to reassure the committee, insisting G4S will provide and safe and secure Olympics “We are confident we can get atleast 7000 people on the day, that is our expectation,” he insisted.

“Expectation is not the greatest word when we have such an event of a big scale. ” Vaz scoffed.

MP Nicola Blackwood questioned if any of its operations had gone wrong previously, to which Buckles strongly denied so. She added, “Why are you waiting for the government to tell you what to do?

Unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish were the three words used by Vaz to describe the G4S security operation at the inquiry far from their original tagline ‘Securing your world,’ featured on its website.

In conclusion to the inquiry, Vaz informed Buckles the Select Committee will continue to monitor the performance of the security firm closely.

Today the Commons home affairs select committee has recalled the CEO and Home Secretary for further questioning in September after the Olympics and Paralympics.

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