G4S boss torn apart by MPs in humiliating interrogation

Olympic scandal: Nick Buckles faced MPs today.
Olympic scandal: Nick Buckles faced MPs today.
Ian Dunt By

The Commons was the scene of one of the most humiliating select committee sessions in recent memory today, as G4S boss Nick Buckles appeared before MPs.

Buckles admitted he should never have signed the contract to provide security for the London 2012 Olympics, as MPs lined up to brand him "unacceptable", "incompetent" and "amateurish".

Labour MP David Winnick said: "It's a humiliating shambles isn't it?"

Buckles replied: "I cannot disagree with you."

The G4S boss admitted he could not guarantee security personnel would turn up on the first day of the Games and that he was reliant on police and military support.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz told the chief executive that was "not an answer" and that Buckles couldn't give the committee the assurances it sought.

"I can't, no," Buckles admitted.

Vaz asked the G4S boss whether he would waive the firm's £57 million management fee along with the £50 million loss it was making on the contract, but Buckles insisted he would not.

"Why? You haven't managed," Vaz said.

"I find that astonishing."

The committee almost descended to farce when Buckles was reminded of an interview this weekend in which he appeared unsure of whether security staff needed to be able to speak fluent English for work at the Games.

The chief executive admitted he did not know what 'fluent English' meant, prompting laughter and mockery from the cross-party group of MPs.

Other MPs read out emails from employees complaining of harsh treatment at the firm, including being made to pay for training and uniforms and not being told when they would be needed for the Games.

"It doesn't sound like a caring and well-managed operation does it?" Winnick asked Buckles.

One Tory MP told the chief executive: "People in this country are sick of huge corporations like yours thinking they can get away with anything."

Buckles told MPs he was "deeply disappointed and embarrassed" by the failure to satisfy the contract.

"You're not sorry?" Vaz asked.

Buckles answered: "I've already said I'm sorry. Deeply sorry."

The home secretary will be interviewed by the committee about when she learned of the firm's failure in September.

Buckles said he learned of the problem on July 3rd. He only told the Olympic Security Board on July 11th.

The chief executive, who earns £825,000, has previously been in deep water at the company after a failed asylum seeker, Jimmy Mubenga, died following abuse at the hands of G4S private security staff.


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