G4S denies its Olympics guard is a shambles

SECURITY firm G4S was battling to restore its reputation yesterday after an MP said the firm had “let the country down” following concerns that it will not be able to supply the 10,400 security guards it promised as part of a £284m deal to protect Olympic venues.

The company could face substantial penalties after the government was forced to call up an additional 3,500 military personnel for the event, some of whom were supposed to be on leave following tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond yesterday told parliament’s defence select committee that his department “will be reimbursed the full marginal cost of the additional military contribution”, although it is unclear how much money can be clawed back from the firm.

“We have encountered some delays in progressing applicants through the final stages but we are working extremely hard to process these as swiftly as possible,” G4S said in a statement.

The PR disaster could bring long-term damage for G4S, which is currently eyeing government contracts, including some to run parts of Britain’s police forces.

Yesterday the Surrey Police Authority said it intended to withdraw plans to transfer some back-office functions to the private sector. G4S was on the shortlist for the contract and committee members cited its Olympic problems as a factor in its decision. Shares in the firm fell 2.5 per cent yesterday.

*Meanwhile, in further Olympic chaos the M4 motorway between Heathrow airport and central London will remain closed today, with no guarantee that it will be open in time for the arrival of Olympic athletes on Monday. Cracks were spotted in a flyover on the road last Friday, forcing the Highways Agency to close one of most important Olympic routes for emerging repairs.