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18 July 2012 | Adam Leach
The payment terms of the Olympic security contract meant it was “neither practical nor cost effective” for provider G4S to source security guards months ahead of the start of London 2012.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, chief executive Nick Buckles told MPs that ideally the company would have recruited the required staff months in advance. The company has just 4,200 people fully processed and able to work with just 10 days until the start of London 2012. The contract with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) required the firm to provide 10,400.
Questioning Buckles, James Clappison, Conservative MP for Hertsmere, read an excerpt of an email to Buckles from Mark Hamilton, managing director of the Olympics contract at G4S on 29 June. Clappison quoted Hamilton as writing: “It would have been an advantage to have everyone trained months in advance but this was neither practical nor cost effective.”
Asked to explain what this meant, Buckles said: “What [Hamilton] is alluding to, is in a perfect world, the contract should have been drawn up so that we had all the people on board with months to go, fully trained, because that is the ideal situation to be in. But the contract we signed was that you get paid on the day they turn up and you get to paid for training them.”
During his appearance before the committee, Buckles – who is under intense pressure over the companies failure to deliver on the contract, which has seen the G4S share price drop by as much as 15 per cent – said that it bid for the contract more for “reputational” benefits than financial ones.
Later in the hearing he admitted that, with hindsight, winning the contract was a regret: “Clearly we regret signing the contract, but we’ve got to get on and deliver it.”