14 Jul 2012

G4S boss: ‘I’m worth £1.2m (99 per cent of the time)’

The security giant’s chief executive tells Channel 4 News he does not expect to get a bonus after failings that will cost the company up to £50m.

Nick Buckles

G4S had been expecting to make a profit of £18m on its £284m contract with the London Games organiser Locog, but will now face a penalty of £10m to £20m after failing to meet a commitment to supply 10,000 security guards.

The company will also meet some of the cost of the Ministry of Defence drafting in 3,500 additional troops to make up the shortfall, leading to an overall loss of £30m to £50m.

But chief executive Nick Buckles said he could not guarantee that G4S would cover all the extra costs incurred by the government.

He told Channel 4 News: “We haven’t got into that level of detail. We are prepared to sit down and talk about how much additional cost it has cost to get the troops instead of us.”

Despite having signed the initial contract in 2010, Mr Buckles said that he had only realised eight or nine days ago that there would be a shortfall in the numbers.

He said G4S agreed to supply 10,000 staff about six months ago and received more than 100,000 applications from people looking for temporary jobs. But the complexities of vetting, recruiting and training applicants meant the company fell behind its targets.

Mr Buckles said: “It’s really because of recruiting a large number of people for a very short period of time. It’s getting people to go through the processes which will probably take them three or four weeks of their time to actually get to work for three weeks.

“Of course we knew that, so we’re not saying that’s an excuse, but clearly that’s what’s happened.”

Mr Buckles insisted the company had kept both the government and Locog fully informed about the difficulties, saying: “We have been sharing information every day with our customer and together with the Home Office we agreed last Thursday that it was a good decision for them to ask for more troops.”

He apologised to troops who would be drafted in to help with the Olympic security operation, some of whom may have recently returned from Afghanistan, saying: “We are very, very grateful that they are here to give us support and we are very sorry that they have had to give up their leave.”

Mr Buckles denied that the Olympic failings would jeopardise G4S’s other contracts across the state sector, saying: “We are a major supplier to UK government. We have done a great job for 20 years working with UK government.

“We still do a great job. All the other contracts we do with government are going extremely well. Clearly this is a setback for us, we can’t deny that, but we still expect to be able to do business with government going forward.”

Mr Buckles, who told Channel 4 News he earns £1.2m a year, said he deserved his salary but it was unlikely that he will collect a bonus following the fiasco.

He said: “I would say 99 per cent of the time I’m worth it. Clearly in this instance the company hasn’t done a great job. I feel very embarrassed about it. I’m very sorry about it, and we have got to put it right, and we are going to deliver a safe and secure Games.”

Asked whether all the security guards recruited by G4S in recent weeks could speak fluent English, Mr Buckles initially told the BBC: “I am pretty sure that they can, but I can’t say categorically as I sit here today.”

He later told Sky News: “As part of the SIA (Security Industry Authority) training and as part of the SIA certification you have to be able to speak English. That’s the standard for the UK security industry.”

It emerged today that the Met Police have drawn up contingency plans for police officers to secure venues in the days leading up to the start of the Games because of the recruitment shortage.

The original plan was for specialist police teams to search the Olympic sporting venues, before lock-down was carried out by either G4S or the military.

But plans are now being made for the potential need to deploy hundreds of officers to control what goes into the arenas until the extra military personnel arrive.

Sources said the development would not lead to an increase in the maximum number of officers who will be on duty during peak times at the Games, which stands at around 12,000.