U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the government will do “whatever it takes” to ensure security at the London Olympics after G4S Plc (GFS)’s failure to supply enough staff to protect games venues and accommodation.
Cameron, visiting British troops at Camp Bastion, the base in southern Afghanistan from which most of the U.K.’s 9,500 troops in the country operate, praised the “excellent job” the military has done to plug the shortfall left by G4S’s failure to provide enough security personnel.
“If there are further steps we have to take, of course we will take them, but I think the responsibility should be for G4S to make sure that their people are there to provide enough security,” Cameron said today. “But the army are playing a vital role. Be in no doubt whatever it takes to provide a safe and secure Olympic Games, we will do it,” he said, adding that “when it comes to the Olympics, we have to be ready for any contingency.”
Lawmakers on the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said yesterday that they have no confidence in the ability of G4S, the world’s largest security company, after Chief Executive Officer Nick Buckles agreed that the staffing shortfall that forced the government to deploy thousands more soldiers and police was a “humiliating shambles.”
Asked if Buckles should resign, Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson told reporters in London today he wants to see “stability at that firm. I don’t want resignations and chaos.”
“At the moment the important thing is we deliver a safe and secure games and G4S is an important partner in that,” Robertson said. “I have absolute confidence the company will deliver.”
The games begin on July 27.
G4S rose after four days of declines. Shares of the Crawley, England-based company advanced 2.4 percent to 245.8 pence as of 2:51 p.m. in London after dropping by as much as 17.9 percent from July 11 to a low of 238.80 on July 17.
Robertson said government lawyers are working on activating all of the penalty clauses in the G4S contracts, including the 57 million-pound management fee, which Ian Horseman-Sewell, G4S’s global events specialist, said the company expects to retain.
“All the penalty clauses in the contract will be activated,” Robertson said. “What happens to Mr. Buckles afterwards is a matter for others in the post-games period. What matters now is that he and his company concentrate on delivering a safe and secure Olympics.”
The company’s performance was “unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish,” Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz told Buckles yesterday.
The deployment of extra troops at the Olympics comes after the government announced earlier this month that the U.K. will cut its army to 82,000 personnel by 2020 from 102,000, around half its size at the height of the Cold War in 1978.
“Yes, we do ask them to do a lot on our behalf but I think it’s in everybody’s interest to have a defense budget that really adds up,” Cameron said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Svenja O’Donnell in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, at firstname.lastname@example.org; Thomas Penny in London at email@example.com
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