The parliamentary grilling received by the chief executive of G4S after its Olympics security shambles was in danger of discouraging businesses to come to the UK, it was claimed today.
Nick Buckles was hauled before the home affairs select committee where he was given a dressing down by MPs after the firm failed to deliver the full 10,400 members of staff to guard Olympic venues, meaning extra military personnel had to be called in to plug the gap.
Mr Buckles was left fighting to save his career after agreeing with MPs that the performance had been a “humiliating shambles”.
But Neil Woodford, investment manager at Invesco Perpetual, which is one of the company’s largest shareholders, told the Sunday Telegraph that the hearing was like watching “a medieval persecution”.
He said: “If this is the way Parliament wants to treat business, please Parliament, don’t be surprised when businesses decide this isn’t the country for them.”
The behaviour of MPs was “incredibly damaging for the economy and this country”, he claimed.
“Chief executives will have watched that hearing with horror,” he added. “It’s disgraceful and very damaging. Companies will be thinking twice about bidding for any government work.”
He was “horrified” that the committee, chaired by the Labour MP Keith Vaz, considered it to be appropriate behaviour.
His warning comes ahead of a second appearance for G4S’ management before the committee next month.
Meanwhile, the company will update with its half-year results on Tuesday when investors will be looking for confirmation of the financial – and reputational - impact after the company said it will lose up to £50m (€63.1m) on the £284m (€358m) contract.
UBS analysts said they believed G4S had dropped out of bids for government contracts as management attention was diverted to the Olympics contract. It is forecasting a hefty drop in pre-tax profits from £154m (€194m) to £96.4m (€121m).