Firm in row over unpaid stewards for Jubilee to have Olympic fire safety role

 

The security company embroiled in the row over unpaid workers at the Queen's Jubilee celebrations has been given a leading role in fire safety at the London Olympics, The Independent has learnt.

Close Protection UK will supply fire marshals to the Games next month after winning a competitive tendering process. It also emerged that over the past four years, Molly Prince, Close Protection UK's managing director, has headed five firms – CPUK.com (which is a different company to Close Protection UK), Voluntary Event Services, Angel Event Solutions, Event Safety Solutions and Venusec – which filed no accounts and were dissolved. On Sunday morning, 30 jobseekers and 50 apprentices were told to sleep under London Bridge where they had to change into their security uniform in public, before working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain. That night they were taken to a sodden campsite.

Ms Prince, 46, blamed logistical problems, saying the workers – 30 unpaid and 50 apprentices on £2.80 an hour – should have stayed on the coach that brought them from around the UK before doing their shift. She said: "It was badly handled and for that we have extensively apologised. We're not in the business of exploiting free labour."

It had been known that Close Protection had a contract to provide security at the Olympics – but not that 50 of its workers would also be shepherding spectators to safety in the event of a fire.

The latest accounts for Close Protection UK Ltd, to 31 March 2011, show that the business – which is run out of a small office in Wigan, Lancashire – had total current assets of £35,000 and current liabilities of £185,000.

Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, last night questioned the firm's role in a letter of complaint to Home Secretary Theresa May. "I want to know how did this company, given its economic background, get a contract to handle fire safety and security." Earlier, he attacked the company, accusing it of displaying a complete disregard for the social conditions of cheap labour.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said the revelations that people working for the company without pay were forced to sleep under London Bridge amounted to a "breach of the responsibility of the company under the agreements in the industry to have proper regard to their employees".

One woman, who worked at the pageant for Close Protection as part of a workfare scheme but did not want to be named, claimed the workers were told they would start work at 5am but by 3.30am had still not been given somewhere other than the street to sleep.

Yesterday morning, even before the nature of its role in the safety precautions put in place by the Games organisers was revealed, Lord Prescott asked: "Is this the Olympic model?"

In response, Ms Prince said: "It was a logistics error – they arrived almost two hours early." She added: "We take the welfare of our staff and apprentices very seriously. The nature of the work is such that we often sleep on coaches."

A London 2012 spokesperson said: "Close Protection UK is providing some fire marshal services for us. All employees will be paid the London living wage. CPUK was appointed via a competitive tender process."

The Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, said: "What happened over the Jubilee was completely unacceptable and it won't be happening again. Anyone working at the Olympics will need to be properly trained."

Torch relay reaches Dublin

The former world 5,000m champion and Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan carried the Olympic flame at St Stephen's Green in Dublin yesterday on the 19th day of the torch relay.

Jedward-mania also hit the Irish capital as the pop duo joined 39 other torchbearers making the historic journey through the city. With just 50 days until the opening ceremony, organisers announced that 43,000 more tickets would go on sale tomorrow, with another 300,000 on offer before the Games. PA

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders