Friday 26 April 2019 12:00 am

BBC retains troubled outsourcer Interserve to provide security across its UK sites

Embattled public sector outsourcer Interserve has been tasked with guarding the BBC’s entire UK estate for the next three years, in a contract award worth £47m.

Read more: FRC investigates Grant Thornton audits of Interserve

The announcement, seen by City A.M. last night, means Interserve’s security brand First Security will continue providing services for the broadcaster, which it has done since 2014. This is despite its parent company weeks ago falling into the hands of its lenders, having buckled under the weight of a £730m debt pile.

It comes as a show of trust in the outsourcer, after it emerged on Wednesday its finance boss Mark Whiteling is to quit the firm. City A.M. understands it is a move he had been planning for several months, but had been unable to make because of the financial troubles of his employer.

Workers at the NHS and the Foreign Office are among the Interserve's 39,000 UK employees, and 70 per cent of its annual £2.9bn turnover comes from the government.

The outsourcer will provide security guards, CCTV and alarm systems at sites including Media City in Salford, and New Broadcasting House in central London.

Interserve boss Debbie White said: “We are delighted to extend our long-term partnership with the BBC and this contract award is an example of how we continue to deliver our strategy, winning repeat business with major public and private sector clients.”

Security in newsrooms has come under scrutiny in recent months after several attacks on media organisations last year, including a shooting at US local newspaper Capital Gazette in Maryland in June 2018, which left five people dead.

Months later, broadcaster CNN was forced to evacuate its New York office after a suspicious package containing a pipe bomb was sent to the building. The attempted attack came amid a series of bombs sent to the homes of public figures in the US, including Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Read more: Police intercept another suspicious package sent to CNN

Last month Interserve was forced to delist from the FTSE 250 and go private after shareholders voted down a rescue deal designed to alleviate its debt. The decision came after a bitter power struggle over the outsourcer between the board and its lead shareholder, US hedge fund Coltrane Asset Management.