CULTURE secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday voiced his support for embattled Olympics contractor G4S, saying the firm had “been quite honourable” in admitting it could not supply enough security staff just two weeks before the Games begin – a failure he branded “completely normal”.
“They put their hands up. Nick Buckles, the chief executive, has said you know they got it wrong. They’ve apologised, they’re going to cover all the costs,” Hunt, whose department is responsible for overseeing the Olympics, told the BBC Andrew Marr show.
“I think it’s completely normal that you’re going to find some contractors on a project of this size who aren’t able to deliver what they promise,” he added.
But he distanced the coalition from the company’s blunders, saying: “[W]hat you’ve got to do as a minister is make sure that you’ve got contingency plans in place so that the overall project is not at risk, and that’s what we’ve done.”
He did not rule out the prospect of sending further troops to man the Olympic sites, if more staffing shortfalls emerge, noting “we have contingency plans for all eventualities”.
Meanwhile Buckles, who said over the weekend he would consider resigning over the debacle, is due to appear before the home affairs select committee tomorrow.
His company signed a £284m contract to provide 13,700 security guards for the Games, but the army was last week drafted in when G4S admitted just 4,000 staff were trained up and around 9,000 more were in the pipeline. The army has pledged 3,500 extra troops to fill the gap.
Buckles told the Sunday Telegraph that he feels “accountable, but not responsible” for the fiasco, which G4S said at the weekend will cost it between £35m and £50m.
Preparations for the sporting event are entering the final stretch, with the first Olympic rings roads set aside for official Games use opening today on the M4.