19 Jul 2012

MPs: G4S should be fined for Olympics security debacle

A group of MPs says the G4S security firm should face financial penalties for the “chaos” it’s caused in failing to provide enough staff for the Olympic Games.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says the Olympics security debacle has undermined confidence in the organisation of the Games.

The committee’s chairman said the Government should “get a grip” on the Olympics and fine G4S for causing a “last-minute scramble” to find thousands of extra soldiers to cover the shortfall.

On Tuesday, G4S chief executive Nick Buckles told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee he could not deny the debacle was a “humiliating shambles for the company”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband wants G4S to be barred from taking on any more government contracts until its competence has been reviewed in the wake of the Olympic security scandal.

Mr Miliband will use a speech this morning to demand a moratorium on any new public money being awarded to the giant firm after what he said was a failure that “beggared belief”.

Before they are awarded any new policing contracts, we need a review of G4S’s ability to deliver. -Ed Miliband


PAC chairman Margaret Hodge called for G4S to foot the bill for all additional costs, as well as its “failure to deliver”.

“No credible explanation has been given for an astonishing 12-fold hike in management costs, from £10 million to £125 million, 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 Locog and G4S urgently.

“The department would win no medals for transparency. We still don’t know just how many security guards will actually be delivered or whether G4S will face any penalty. We will carry out a post-mortem in September.”

No credible explanation has been given for an astonishing 12-fold hike in management costs. The Home Office needs to get a grip on Locog and G4S urgently.PAC chairman Margaret Hodge

Ms Hodge also criticised the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for a lack of transparency over Games finances.

“We have faced considerable difficulty in pinning down just how much the Games is costing the taxpayer and how much risk there is.

“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.”

‘No additional costs to taxpayer’

But the Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected the report, saying the government is on track to deliver a great Games.

“We disagree with the Committee’s assertion that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has lacked transparency. London 2012 has arguably been more transparent than any other public sector project,” Mr Hunt said.

“The Government has been working closely with Locog and G4S on security arrangements. We have moved quickly to activate our contingency plans and we will continue to do whatever it takes to provide a safe and secure Games.

“There will be no additional costs to the taxpayer as a result of the recent problems with G4S, and under their contract the company will be subject to penalties for failing to deliver – including against their £57 million management fee.