Olympics: G4S security fiasco was predictable, say MPs
The Olympics security fiasco was predictable and has undermined confidence in the Games, a leading Westminster committee said yesterday.
MPs on the public accounts committee have condemned the government’s handling of the furore, in which a shortfall in staff provided by private firm G4S has meant that soldiers and police have had to be drafted in to protect Olympic sites.
The MPs had raised concerns before Christmas that G4S would not be able to deliver on its contract, a report by the committee noted.
MPs also attacked government departments for failing to be transparent with them, and questioned why G4S’s management fee was allowed to increase twelve-fold, from £10 million to £125m.
The government said it would look towards “penalty clauses” in its contract with the firm as a result of the failures. Prime Minister David Cameron also pledged to “go after” G4S over the chaos.
Labour committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: “The chaos which has emerged over the security contract was predictable and undermines confidence in those responsible for managing the Games.
“There is now a last-minute scramble to make sure there will be enough security personnel on the ground.
“In evidence to us before Christmas, all those concerned gave assurances that the contract could be met, despite more than doubling the number of guards before the ink was dry on the original contract.”
She added: “No credible explanation has been given for an astonishing twelve-fold hike in management costs, from £10m to £125m, and G4S still has not been able to deliver. Now troops are having to be drafted in.
“The Home Office needs to get a grip on [the Games organisers] and G4S urgently.”
Ms Hodge said MPs still did not know how many security guards would actually be delivered, or whether G4S would face any penalty. She said they were unhappy with their dealings with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and that the committee’s members would carry out a post-mortem in September.
“Legitimate monitoring of implementation has been an unnecessarily frustrating process, characterised by a resistance to giving us clear and consistent information and a readiness to depart from proper ways of conducting public business,” she said.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson said the government was activating “all penalty clauses” in the contract with G4S. “The penalty clauses apply to the whole contract, including the management fee,” he said.
Meanwhile, the home affairs select committee has announced it will recall G4S chief executive Nick Buckles to answer further questions.
While Mr Buckles has admitted that there would be financial consequences from the company’s failure to recruit enough staff, he insisted it wanted to keep a £57m management charge.
Despite calls for Mr Buckles to quit, Mr Robertson said he should stay in his post for now, to provide “stability” during the Olympics. “I don’t want resignations causing chaos,” he said.
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