Army chiefs to consider bonuses for Games' troops after G4S scandal


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The Independent Online

Rising anger within the armed forces at the prospect of extra troops being drafted in to guard the Olympics due to the G4S scandal has forced ministers and military top brass to consider paying the soldiers a bonus.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed talks will take place next week as pressure grew to compensate the servicemen and women, many of whom have recently returned from Afghanistan and have had to cancel holidays or honeymoons.

Soldiers are said to be furious about the deployment, which comes days after being told they face redundancies.

A sergeant with one of the brigades affected, who has served two tours in Helmand province, said: "I am one of the more fortunate ones. At the insistence of the missus we have got insurance. But I do have mates who did not get comprehensive coverage.

"This has come as a bit of a shock. We were told it was almost certain we would not get involved in the Olympics. We find the stupidity of G4S quite staggering. Many of us had planned to spend quality time with our partners and also our kids, many of whom were growing up while we were in Afghanistan, and that has now gone for a burton."

Major General Julian Thompson, a Royal Marines commander who served in the Falklands, said: "I feel extremely angry they've been called in because of a cock-up. I've been told that some soldiers have paid for honeymoons and can't go. I'm all for G4S paying a bonus as well. How one works out what they're paid is open for discussion."

The 3,500 soldiers, from three separate brigades, were in the third line of contingency planning put in place by the MoD and it was thought very unlikely that they would become involved in Olympic security. They were told they could go ahead and book their holidays, but were also instructed to take out insurance in case there was a last-minute emergency. However, it is believed that some had not done this.

While the MoD said troops "won't be out of pocket", a spokesman confirmed they would be expected to claim on their own insurance for lost holidays.

Labour is also demanding the Home Secretary, Theresa May, make a statement in the Commons today about the debacle and say when she knew the private security firm G4S would be unable to fulfil its contract to provide Games security. G4S, which made profits of £531million last year, has said it will reimburse all the costs of the extra mobilisation, which it puts at £35-£50million.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer suggested the 3,500 troops be paid the allowance of £29 a day they receive in Afghanistan. But Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said they should receive a £500 bonus.

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