Chief of London security firm faces questions in Parliament

The head of the private firm in charge of security at the London Olympics has said he is sorry and deeply disappointed that his firm has failed in its commitment to provide full security for the Games. Nick Buckles answered questions put to him by members of parliament Tuesday.

Nick Buckles is chief executive officer of the private security firm G4S. Speaking to a Home Affairs Select Committee made up of British Lawmakers, he said, “I was deeply disappointed. I have also gone on record saying I am very embarrassed about the situation as well.”

One member of the committee asked Buckles if the failure to fulfill the contract was a humiliating shambles. Buckles said he could not disagree.

Buckles’ firm G4S was contracted to bring in about 10,000 staff to run security at the London Olympics, which begin later this month.

But last week it emerged that the company had not hired enough staff to fill the contract. Under questioning Tuesday, Buckles said he expects his company will be able to supply around 7,000 staff. The British government has already called in an additional 3,500 troops to fill the gap.

Buckles said it became clear on July 3 that the terms of the contract would not be met. He described the contract, which was signed in December, as complex.

“To get 10,000 people on the ground in a relatively short period of time has been a huge logistical challenge,” said Buckles. “We didn’t know that the contract was not going to perform until very late on, purely because the whole process is very back-ended in terms of getting everybody ready for the Games.”

He said G4S regretted having signed the contract but now had to get on and deliver it.

Alongside the extra military support brought in by the government, hundreds of police were deployed at Olympic venues across Britain on Monday, reportedly because G4S staff failed to arrive for work.

Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, closed Tuesday’s questioning.

“I have to say I asked the members of the committee to sum up your performance and the performance of the company so far, and they have used these terms: unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish,” he said. “Though the committee is most grateful to you for coming in, we feel that those words best express our deep concern about the way in which this matter has been handled.”

Shares in G4S have dived since news of the staff shortfall emerged, losing around $1 billion in market value.

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