Mark Leftly: The Olympic fiasco was just the final straw

Given that G4S's failure to provide adequate security at the Games was the latest in a long line of deficiencies, it's the man at the top who must go

GG4S boss Nick Buckles once said that he "never had any ambition of working for anyone else". Early retirement it is, then, for the 51-year-old with the odd mullet haircut, because there is no way he should be allowed to continue at the world's second biggest private-sector employer.

This is not because of the security fiasco at the Olympics, when G4S failed to stump up enough security guards so that the army had to step in to protect the event.

Don't get me wrong, the epic failure at a global event that means the company has ruled itself out of bidding for contracts at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil was certainly deserving of his head.

Nor is this about the disastrous failure to buy ISS for £5.2bn last year, when shareholders effectively vetoed his plans and were proven right last week when the Danish cleaner was valued some 20 per cent below that level in a stake sale.

And, obviously it's a bit odd how corporate advisers, brokers and a chairman lost their jobs with G4S when Buckles goes around boasting that his role nowadays is "reputation and pricing bids".

Of course he should have gone over the Olympics. Of course he should have gone over the ISS fiasco. But, to go for those reasons alone means that all the other shambles and controversies during his eight-year leadership then would be forgotten.

Buckles should go for the many, many awful mistakes the company has made during his reign.

It's difficult to know where to start, so I'll trot out the rebuttal that many shareholders will make against my argument: G4S has gown hugely under Buckles, the share price hovered below 120p in mid-2004 and since 2009 has traded at well over double that.

Yes, the financial performance is impressive, with consistently strong turnover, profit and dividend pay-out figures. But, the operational performance has been shameful and when the industry is something as crucial as security, it is not enough to use accounts as a defence.

Buckles is not personally responsible for any of the following, but the list is long enough to suggest that he has failed to impose the right culture on G4S's employees:

In 2007, staff at US subsidiary Wackenhut were found asleep while "securing" a nuclear power plant, resulting in the loss of its contract with the US's biggest energy provider;

In 2008, Aboriginal elder "Mr Ward" died of severe heat stroke in the back of a G4S prison van in Australia. G4S was fined after pleading guilty to charges of failing to protect the 46-year-old's health and safety;

In 2010, father-of-five Jimmy Mubenga, who was being deported from the UK to Angola, was restrained by three G4S security guards and died of cardiac arrest. Last month, the Crown Prosecution Service did not bring charges to the guards over insufficient evidence, a decision that a former chief inspector of prisons branded "perverse";

In 2011, G4S lost a major government contract after a record 773 complaints by immigration centre detainees, including nearly 50 of assault. Current chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick found that G4S guards used "highly offensive and sometime racist language".

Individually, these are hardly the fault of the boss of one of the world's most sprawling empires. It is also hard to say when enough emerged that Buckles should have taken a hard look at himself and admit that he hadn't corrected what appears to be cultural deficiencies.

But the list has gone well beyond whatever that point is and he should go.

How far off can the final whistle be for JJB Sports?

The board of JJB Sports held a lengthy meeting on Friday and the agenda would surely make interesting reading because I'm not sure what the directors have left to say to each other.

Can we survive the next quarterly rent payment day in September? If so, what's the point? There will still be another to get through before the end of the year.

Shall we just go down the pub? Only if there's a few quid left in the kitty. Which there probably isn't.

The long-suffering sports goods retailer – which, lest we forget, was worth more than £1bn in its heyday but found itself outmuscled and out-thought by the likes of JD Sports and Sports Direct – suffered yet another body blow last Thursday.

The group's latest supposed saviour, Dick's Sporting Goods, wrote off its £20m investment in the company leading to founder David Whelan, who sold his last shares five years ago, to question JJB's future. Analysts are openly talking of the likelihood of administration.

US group Dick's was due to plough another £20m into the concern next year, but JJB's future seems so bleak that it's not going to bother. It wouldn't have been enough, as it seems that JJB needs the dough far sooner than 2013 anyway.

Dick's will retain its 3 per cent stake, which it took five months ago, but having, in effect, publicly condemned JJB's prospects, that now looks more like hope than expectation of any recovery.

Where all this leaves Bob Corliss, a US turnaround specialist who used to run the unappealing sounding Athlete's Foot chain, is confusing. He is due to become chairman of JJB next month, but that was an appointment almost certainly recommended by Dick's itself. While in far from an untenable position, Corliss could well feel that with his biggest supporter distancing itself from JJB he will have less support in making the changes he feels the chain needs.

JJB failed to sell much football gear during Euro 2012, a plight for which there is a proverbial response. Maybe it's time to blow the final whistle on the company.

Margareta Pagano is away

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Telesales & Sales Support Apprentice

£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...

Client Relationship Manager - SQL, Python

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...

**Financial Services Tax**

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit