Olympic security chief admits London games in ‘humiliating shambles’
Chef executive of the private security company in charge of the London Olympics Nick Buckles admitted that he oversold his company’s capabilities and conceded that efforts to secure the games are in a “humiliating shambles.” According to CNN, the admission comes just days after Buckles signed a contract promising some 10,000 additional personnel on site, a move that he says he now regrets.
Just days after London won the competition to host the 2012 games, terrorists struck in the notorious July 7 bombings of 2005. It became immediately clear that extraordinary security measures would be necessary for the 2012 games.
G4S, which is the largest private security agency in the world and bills itself as “The world’s leading international security solutions group,” took on the Olympics contract in 2006. The group believed at the time that only 7,000 guards would be needed to secure the Olympic arena, Olympic Village, which houses the athletes’ living quarters and training facilities and other critical areas.
Earlier this summer, the estimate was raised to 10,500 guards, a number that Buckles initially said that he could meet, signing a $444 million (£284 million) contract with the British government before admitting, days later, that G4S currently only has 4,000 guards ready for the games, with athletes set to start arriving within the week. The company blames computer issues and difficulty in recruiting qualified individuals. The shortfalls in security personnel will be covered by U.K. police and military forces.
Buckles appeared before Parliament on Tuesday, where lawmakers of both parties tore into the CEO, whose company’s market value has plummeted $1 billion since the personnel shortage was announced. The Chicago Tribune reports that G4S’s valuation dropped six percent just during the time it took Buckles to testify to the government hearing.
Lawmakers found it particularly galling that Bucles and G4S, which was founded in Denmark and has grown into the largest private security firm in the world, are still receiving a $89 million (£57 million) management fee as part of its contract.
CNN quotes head of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz as asking, “Why? You haven’t managed.”
Labor Party minister David Winnick laid into Buckles, insisting repeatedly that security preparations are in “a humiliating shambles.”
Buckles was forced to admit that he could not disagree. However, the CEO insisted that he has no intention of stepping down and that he intends to see events through.
“Clearly we regret signing the contract but now we have to get on and deliver it,” quoted the Tribune. Buckles said that his company intends to compensate the police departments and U.K. military for their assistance in securing the games.
Opening ceremonies take place on July 27.
Watch video about this story, embedded via CNN, below: