Embattled G4S boss Nick Buckles apologises for Olympic security fiasco but says company will claim £57m 'management fee'

In a bruising appearance in the Commons, Nick Buckles agreed with MPs that the episode had been a “humiliating shambles” for the company, leaving its reputation “in tatters”.

Nigel Morris
Tuesday 17 July 2012 17:42
Comments
G4S chief executive Nick Buckles gives evidence on Olympic security staffing to the Home Affairs Select Committee
G4S chief executive Nick Buckles gives evidence on Olympic security staffing to the Home Affairs Select Committee

The embattled boss of security giant G4S repeatedly apologised today for the Olympic Games security fiasco, but insisted the company would still claim its £57m “management fee” for the contract.

In a bruising appearance in the Commons, Nick Buckles agreed with MPs that the episode had been a “humiliating shambles” for the company, leaving its reputation was “in tatters”.

Asked by the home affairs committee, chairman Keith Vaz, why the firm wanted to claim its management fee at all, Mr Buckles said: "We've managed the contract and we've had management on the ground for two years. We still expect to deliver a significant number of staff.” Mr Vaz responded: "I find that astonishing.”

Mr Buckles has been summoned after it emerged that G4S would only be able to supply about 7,000 of the 10,400 guards it had been contracted to provide for the games, leaving soldiers and police to step into the breach

He promised that all the Army and police costs would be reimbursed – including the cost of their accommodation – and even suggested that G4S would look sympathetically on paying them bonuses.

But his contrition failed to appease MPs who lined up to accuse the company of incompetence and amateurishness.

The Tory Nicola Blackwood told him that his performance before the MPs "would lead quite a lot of people to despair”. She said: “I had very little confidence in G4S fulfilling this contract before this session started and now I don't have any confidence at all.”

Mr Buckles said G4S took on the Olympics contract to boost its reputation.

"Financially, it's not a huge issue for us in improving our profit."

But he insisted the £50 million loss the firm now faces was not insignificant, saying it was a "huge amount", representing 10% of its annual £500 million profit.

"It was a hugely important contract," he said.

Mr Buckles added there had been "exclusive management focus on this contract for two years".

G4S is now aiming to provide a minimum of 7,000 security guards, Mr Buckles said.

He said it was a "complete and utter shock" when he was told on July 3, while on holiday in the US, that there would be problems delivering the contract.

He returned to the UK the same day, he said.

Asked about staff not turning up, he said: "Our normal show rate is about 90%."

But he said it was not an issue of people being told to turn up and not arriving.

"Our problem at the moment is a shortage of staff," he said.

"We just don't have the staff.

"That shortage is going to manifest itself from today to the Games."

It was a separate subsidiary within the firm, with a management team and a project board to review its progress every month, he told MPs.

G4S is now aiming to provide a minimum of 7,000 security guards, Mr Buckles said.

He said it was a "complete and utter shock" when he was told on July 3, while on holiday in the US, that there would be problems delivering the contract.

He returned to the UK the same day, he said.

Asked about staff not turning up, he said: "Our normal show rate is about 90%."

But he said it was not an issue of people being told to turn up and not arriving.

"Our problem at the moment is a shortage of staff," he said.

"We just don't have the staff.

"That shortage is going to manifest itself from today to the Games."

An internal memo from Mark Hamilton, the firm's managing director of the Olympics contract, raised issues over its "just-in-time contract phrasing" in June.

The memo said it would have been better to have guards in place months in advance but this was "neither practical nor cost-effective", the MPs were told.

Mr Buckles admitted that "in a perfect world" the staff would have been in place well ahead of the Olympics, but that was not what the contract stated.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in