Troops called in for Olympics after security firm blunder
LONDON: The head of British security firm G4S apologised on Saturday for recruitment blunders that have forced the government to deploy extra troops to guard the London Olympics at the last minute.
G4S chief executive Nick Buckles said he was “very sorry” that 3,500 troops have had to be drafted in just two weeks before the Games, after the company admitted it could not provide the total 10,000 guards it said it would.
Speaking publicly for the first time since details of the fiasco emerged Wednesday, Buckles confirmed that G4S, one of the world’s largest security firms, faces losses of up to #50 million ($78 million, 64 million euros) over the blunder.
“We accept that we underestimated the task of supplying staff for the Olympics. We deeply regret that,” he told BBC radio.
He admitted that he had only realised “eight or nine days ago” that there would be a shortfall.
“It’s only when you get closer and closer to the Games that you realise that the number isn’t as high as you expect,” he said.
He revealed that G4S, which employs more than 650,000 people worldwide, now faces a penalty charge in the range of #10 to #20 million for failing to meet the terms of its #284 million contract with Games organisers.
In addition, the firm will have to pay the defence ministry for the cost of providing the additional troops to guard the Games, which begin on July 27.
Buckles apologised directly to the troops involved, some of whom were due to go on leave after tours in Afghanistan.
“We’re very sorry that you’ve had to get involved at this late stage but we’re very grateful,” he said on BBC television.
Buckles told Channel 4 News his total pay was #1.2 million and insisted he was worth it “99 percent of the time”.
Asked if he would receive a bonus this year, he replied: “It doesn’t look like it, does it?”
G4S was originally contracted to provide the Games with 2,000 personnel for #86 million, but this was increased in December to 10,400 while the value of the contract more than trebled.
On Thursday, the defence ministry announced that G4S had been unable to recruit enough guards and that 3,500 soldiers would step in to fill the shortfall, bringing the total number of troops involved in the Games to 17,000.
Britain is deploying a total force of 40,000 troops, police, guards and volunteers for the Games, in its biggest ever peacetime security operation.