The Sketch: Glutton for punishment takes six of the best

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The Independent Online

Nick Buckles spent his final moments before sitting down in front of Keith Vaz and his inquisitors in the room next door getting ready for the gruelling session ahead. His preparation amounted to agreeing with whatever barb, insult or downright abuse the increasingly worked-up backbenchers threw in his direction.

Most of the time he agreed to the MPs' demands for money – G4S would pay for the troops and police clearing up its mess, for their accommodation and would even consider paying them bonuses.

The one exception to his benevolence was a refusal to return the company's £57m "management fee" for mishandling the Olympics contract. Given its desperation to repair the damage to the firm's reputation, what's the betting that G4S will eventually hand the money back?

Buckles's tactics failed to impress his interrogators who clambered over each another to vent their frustration. For David Winnick, it was a "humiliating shambles" leaving the firm's reputation in "tatters"; Nicola Blackwood was "in despair", while Vaz himself deployed three adjectives to sum up his committee's verdict: unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish.

Throughout Buckles – suit buttoned up despite the sticky heat of the committee room, arms out and palms fixed to his legs – remained impassive, apparently resigned to his punishment.

Even his £830,000 salary (before bonuses) could not have felt a compensation for his humiliation. And who knows how long he can count on that?