Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

MPs: Ban Games debacle firm G4S

MPs say G4S should be the first on a Government blacklist of firms that failed to deliver

The private company at the centre of the Olympics security shambles should be the first outfit on a Government blacklist of high-risk firms that have failed to deliver, MPs have said.

Politicians repeated their calls for G4S to give up its £57 million management fee and said it should pay those people it trained but then failed to use due to management failings.

The blame for the debacle which saw thousands of troops brought in at the last minute to help secure the Games lies "firmly and solely" with G4S, a damning report found.

Exonerating Olympic organisers Locog, the Home Office and everybody else, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said even G4S agreed it was the only one at fault.

The firm, which has already taken a £50 million loss on the Games, must now "look to the bigger picture, and its long-standing relationship with its biggest client in the UK: the taxpayer", the committee's report said. "By waiving the £57 million management fee in its entirety, a small fraction of the £759 million that it receives from the British taxpayer every year, G4S would send a strong signal to the public that it is serious about offering fair and reasonable redress when things go badly wrong."

MPs said the "apparent reluctance" of G4S chief executive Nick Buckles to grasp this point shocked the committee, adding: "We recommend that the Government establish a register of high-risk providers who have a track-record of failure in the delivery of public services."

In future, Government departments, police forces and other public bodies "must not place too much weight on a company's size and reputation alone", and people ready and willing to work but not offered a time and place to start should be paid for the training they attended. "We expect the company to make public a means by which people can be recompensed in such circumstances and to be quick and generous in settling such claims."

G4S only told organisers two weeks before the Games that problems with its scheduling system meant it could not guarantee it would be able to supply enough guards to secure the Olympics so some 4,700 extra servicemen and women were drafted in at the last minute, taking the military's contribution to 18,200 personnel, and more police were needed to boost venue security too.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "Since day one this Government has been determined to reform how we spend taxpayers' money on goods and services. That's why we have introduced unprecedented and comprehensive reforms across all areas of procurement."

A G4S spokesman said the firm's board and management took "responsibility for the inability of the company to deliver, in full, on the Olympic security contract and apologise for this failure". Findings of a review into what went wrong will be announced within the next 10 days, he added. The firm has also "consistently made clear that the British taxpayer will not bear any additional costs".

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