James Moore: Corporate bunglers could be put off by Buckles' barracking

Outlook If you paid a decorator up front to paint your house before putting it on the market you'd probably be rather cross if, when the time came for the work to be done, you were told that only half the rooms could be completed because he'd not hired enough people for the job.

Such a situation might lead to you losing a buyer and even if the work were eventually finished late and another firm was hired to do it at your tradesman's expense it wouldn't be much compensation. You'd be quite justified in giving the boss a piece of your mind. If the owner of the company got wind of the problem and had any sense he'd sack said boss and do his best to make things right quickly. Sensible small businesses are well aware of the damage stories like this can do to their long-term health, particularly if they find their way on to websites like Which Local.

When it comes to big business things work rather differently. And sensible people are sometimes hard to find.

The above situation is very similar to what happened on a massive scale with G4S and the Olympic security contract. The thing being put on the market was not a house. It was this country and, fortunately, for the sake of selling its virtues, all wasn't entirely lost because another organisation (the army) were on hand to do the jobs G4S hadn't found the people to do.

G4S yesterday revealed it had lost £50m as a result of the debacle. The company took its management fee but had to foot the costs of dragging a host of weary squaddies back from their leave.

The chief executive Nick Buckles has, it seems, belatedly worked out that presiding over such a mess has raised questions about his future employment, just like the boss of our mythical decorating firm.

We weren't able to give him a piece of our minds, but our elected representatives were on hand to let Mr Buckles know what everyone was thinking about his performance. The barracking he got from MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee was no more than he deserved.

But here's the problem. Far from being outraged at G4S winning a gold medal for incompetence and costing them a fortune, the owners of the business appear more angry about the customer's response.

Neil Woodford, generally hailed as a doyen of the fund-management industry (which says it all really), likened Mr Buckles' treatment by MPs to "medieval persecution".

This rather makes him the Usain Bolt of ludicrous hyperbole. Errant tradesmen in medieval times were put in stocks and had bricks, rotting food and other even more unmentionable items thrown at them. Mr Buckles spent a morning in an air-conditioned room enduring little more than a stern telling off.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining. Mr Woodford has warned that such treatment will make firms reluctant to do business with the UK in future. If the owner of our mythical decorating business told you he wouldn't do business with you because you'd been mean to the man who'd mucked up your decorating you'd probably be delighted.

If Mr Woodford is right it might mean we avoid similar national foul ups in future. Good.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...