'All G4S penalties' to be activated - UK sports minister

The UK Government will activate “all penalty clauses” in G4S’s contract to cut the bill for the taxpayer in light of chaotic security arrangements, the British sports minister said today.

The UK Government will activate “all penalty clauses” in G4S’s contract to cut the bill for the taxpayer in light of chaotic security arrangements, the British sports minister said today.

Hugh Robertson also signalled that the firm’s £57m (€72.5) management fee would be targeted.

But Mr Robertson dismissed calls for G4S boss Nick Buckles to resign immediately, saying the Olympics needed “stability”.

Asked at a press conference what money could be recouped from G4S, Mr Robertson said: “We are working through that at the moment.

“But all the penalty clauses that are in the contract will be activated.”

He added: “What happens to Mr Buckles is a matter for others in a post-Games environment.”

Asked whether Mr Buckles should resign, Mr Robertson told the press conference in Westminster: ``The important thing is that we deliver a safe and secure Games, and G4S remain a key partner in that, so I want stability at that firm, and delivery.

“I don’t want resignations causing chaos. What happens to Mr Buckles afterwards is a matter for others in the post-Games environment.

“What is crucial now is that he and his organisation concentrate absolutely on delivering a safe and secure Olympics.

“I have confidence in their ability to do so.”

His comments came amid reports that a request may be made tomorrow for additional troops to plug any further gaps in security if G4S fails to deliver the necessary number of guards.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that contingency plans are in place to provide more troops if needed, but added that no request has yet been received.

But there were reports that a decision will be taken tomorrow on whether to put 2,000 personnel “on notice to move”, which would mean that they would act as a reserve force throughout the Olympics period and would not be available for other tasks.

Sky News quoted an unnamed Home Office source as saying: “The decision to put another 2,000 military personnel on notice to move will be taken tomorrow.

“This comes after very intrusive examination of G4S management and while we are confident that the recruitment targets will be met, it is prudent to make contingency plans of this kind.

“If this decision is taken, it will mean that the personnel will be told to be ready to move, but will not be moved.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We have not asked the military to deploy any more military personnel beyond the 3,500 already agreed.

“We are constantly reviewing the extent of the G4S shortfall and if it becomes necessary to increase the size of the military contingent, then this is something we will consider.

“There are currently 11,000 military personnel assigned to venue security, alongside G4S staff and accredited volunteers.

“The Government has committed £553m (€704m) for venue security and we remain confident that we will deliver a safe and secure Olympics within that budget.”

An MoD spokesman said: “As the Defence Secretary made clear at the weekend, should there be a requirement for additional military personnel the MoD will do whatever possible to make them available.

“At the present time no further requests have been received but, as people would expect, an ongoing programme of prudent planning continues.”

Mr Robertson said lawyers were currently working through the penalty clauses.

“The penalty clauses apply to the whole contract, including the management fee,” he added.

“At the moment the important thing is that we deliver a safe and secure Games.

“G4S remains a key partner in that. I want stability at that firm and delivery. I don’t want resignations at this point.”

He insisted none of the contingency budget would have to be spent making up for the failures by G4S.

Mr Robertson also said he still believed it had been right to use a private contractor for Games security alongside police and military resources.

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