London 2012 security contract is one of kind, says G4S chief following "humiliating shambles"

Tuesday, 11 September 2012
By Tom Degun at the House of Commons in London

nick buckles_11-09-12September 11 - G4S chief executive Nick Buckles told the Home Affairs Select Committee here that the unique nature of the contract his company signed with London 2012 to become security providers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is the main reason why they failed to deliver.

G4S revealed it could not provide the required number of guards at the Olympics with just days to go to the start of the Games, forcing the Government to commit 3,500 military personnel to fill the security void.

It came after G4S signed a £284 million ($442 million/€361 million) contract with London 2012 to provide 10,400 security guards for the Olympics, but only 4,000 guards were trained and ready by the time of the opening of the Games.

But Buckles (pictured top), who admitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee in July that the episode had been "a humiliating shambles", said the contract signed with London 2012 was a major problem.

"The contract we signed is one of a kind," Buckles told the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz as he was grilled on the high-profile failure.

"It is different to any other contract that has been carried out by any other private sector company in the world for security.

"There is no blueprint for it, there is no track record for it and there is no book.

"There is not another contract like it and when we signed it back in December; we clearly thought we could deliver on it.

"But it is a seriously complex project.

"These are not excuses, they are just explanations and there are of course regrets."

g4s london_2012Only 4,000 G4S security guards were trained and ready by the opening of London 2012

Buckles reiterated the fact that G4S had made a £50 million ($78 million/€64 million) loss from the Games but said he still expects London 2012 to pay some of the contract, despite not having been paid by the Organising Committee since July 13 after admitting it could not deliver fully on the project.

"We have no profit at all, just a £50 million ($78 million/€64 million) loss," he said.

"But I still expect London 2012 to pay us in line with the contract.

"That is exactly what contracts are for; to make sure that you get a fair and equitable settlement.

"I'm not going to sit here and say we did a great job, I'm nowhere near saying that, but what I am saying is that we delivered a significant part of the contract and our people did an excellent job in securing the Games.

"But we are still planning to take a £50 million ($78 million/€64 million) loss on this contract because we failed to deliver in the way we expected to."

The G4S chief executive also pointed out that his company made a big donation to the services charity to recognise the fact that the military and the police stepped in at late notice to help G4S perform their security obligations as part of the contingency plan.

"We are certainly very keen to acknowledge the support that the military gave us, and the police," Buckles said.

"So after consulting with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the best way to deal with that, we did make the decision to donate £2.5 million ($4 million/€3 million) to the services charity in recognition of the fact that we certainly have disrupted a large number of people's summer and we certainly apologise for that."

British troops_had_to_be_called_in_to_cover_the_security_deficit_left_by_G4SThousands of British troops had to be called in to cover the security deficit left by G4S

On his own role and whether the issue would force him to resign, Buckles said he would wait to see the results of an independent review into the issue before making any final decision, with the findings of the review due before the end of the year.

"I have been with the group 28 years and chief executive 10 years," he said.

"It has been a big investment for my whole career and my whole life and it [resigning] is not a decision I would like to take lightly.

"I expect the Board to listen to the findings of the review before we decide anything.

"But I am group chief executive and if a contract goes wrong, I take the blame for that as well the credit for the many, many contracts that go right.

"I care about this company significantly and it is very painful when we have all of these negative headlines.

"So for us, this wasn't good."

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