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

News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker