SHAMBOLYMPICS: G4S, Nick Buckles, and rewarding failure

Will any heads roll in the aftermath of the G4S fiasco?

Cost of London Olympics rapidly approaching sum total of Osborne’s austerity savings

I suppose, in the light of French supplier EDF bunging all that sponsorship money our way, the Olympics organisers felt it was vital  to choose a British company to handle security for the Olympic Games….Britain having more snoopy security cameras than anywhere else in the world.

But perhaps a little more due diligence about the company might have been in order.

In August last year, CEO Nick Buckles (the jolly soul pictured left) admitted in a CNBC interview that the businesses in Greece and Ireland were shakey. But he purred quite a bit about his bold acquisition strategy.

As good as his word, last November, the chief executive of G4S tried to buy Danish cleaning giant ISS. Everyone from the analysts to the shareholders thought it was a daft idea. Buckles persisted, until – when faced with an extraordinary general meeting that was due to give the deal a major thumbs-down – he decided to back down rather than be humiliated.

This cost G4S more than £50m in fees for legal and financial advice. So perhaps it was that gentle air of insouciant waste that first attracted Whitehall mandarins to Buccaneering Nick Buckles. Or perhaps it was the Camerlot pols who were attracted to his ability to make vast amounts of money out of screwing up. Nick made £5.3m last year, despite dumping the firm into that costly, ill-judged takeover bid.

Nick’s basic salary was £830,000, and he also received £27,920 of perks such as a company car and private health cover. The value of his pension pot also increased by £1.6m during the year, and is now worth almost £9m in total. He received shares worth £1.1m, and was also allocated stock worth a further £1.8m that will cash in during 2014 if he hits performance targets.

As we’ve already seen in the media, Mr Buckles is more likely to hit the buffers than his targets. But one can see how a private health fan skilled in pumping up his pension pot would appeal to both the Lansleys and Sir Humphreys respectively.

Or perhaps it was Nick Buckles’ non-stop gob and flair for self-publicity that won them over.

In January last year, the Sunday Times asked Buckles what he had learned over the years, and he said he had mainly grasped the need to spend “…a lot more time on people managing and leading people than getting into the detail of the business. You prioritise what is important and don’t get too het up about day-to-day issues.” Bet he’s a tad het up at the minute.

In April this year, Nick was asked by the New Statesman to sum up his leadership style in three words. He answered, “No excuses, please.” So obviously, he won’t have any about the abject failure of his company to fulfil the Olympics contract.

In June, he told the BBC that “saving your client money can actually be a good thing”. But not, presumably, when you’ve screwed up and charged the client ten times more than the original quote. Today, our Nick cut a rather sheepish figure on Radio 4, protesting that he would lose “up to £30million” on the contract. Bless.

Well, however they were chosen, it’s all still the usual poppycock and newspaper-talk as far as London ‘Mayor’ Boris Johnson is concerned: speaking at the Olympic Park yesterday, he insisted: “Everybody is concerned to put the final nails in place – we always expected loads of military and I think they’ll do a great job. The key thing is that it’s going to be a safe and secure Games.”

So actually, “we fully expected G4S to f**k up, which was why we always had these 3,500 extras on call, and anyway we didn’t choose them – it was Locog who agreed their contract”. But for some reason, Basher Boris doesn’t seem to be able to stand up to Locog: in March, The Mayor declared that he was opposed to  the G4S plan to close the Mall for the duration, and ordered the organisers back to the drawing board. Later he was forced to feebly accept that there was no room for movement “because Locog made such a mess of choosing individual venues”.

When it comes to Boris, words like piss, wind, trousers and mouth come to mind. But who Locog?

Well yes, they did hire G4S. And its security estimates quickly soared from £282million to £553million, helping  to push the ballooning cost of the Olympics towards £11billion – well above the £9.3billion that the Tory Government set aside for the sporting spectacular, after Labour allowed the budget to nudge up just a little…..from £4.8bn in 2005, to around £7bn by 2009. In March this year, the Commons public Accounts Committee (PAC) he Commons Public Accounts Committee found that (Locog) needed more than twice the number of security guards than expected.

The report said Locog’s initial assessment that 10,000 guards were required was simply a ‘finger in the air’ estimate.

So why was Theresa May so surprised when the Locog-hired G4S suddenly announced it was 3,500 short last Wednesday? It seems odd, given that Tory Locog Chairman and former bumptious athlete Seb Coe is well known to Tessa and her Home Office colleagues. We cannot know: but what we can look at is the relative ‘skills’ of some prominent Locog Board Members.

The Slog will be publishing the findings of an investigation into this tomorrow: it is explosive stuff.

32 thoughts on “SHAMBOLYMPICS: G4S, Nick Buckles, and rewarding failure

  1. On the basis of his name alone Nick Buckles should never be hired except when the job involves a company car with doors that fall off. Clown.


  2. Well, apart from the waste of money, the security fiasco doesn’t really matter.
    The main point of the security staff is to stop the punters taking their own food and drink into the site. It cost those fast food catering companies a lot of money to ‘support’ the Games and buy the catering rights, so they jolly well better make sure that visitors spend lots of money buying expensive food and drink inside the grounds.


  3. This was all entirely predictable. On Tuesday 9 May 2009 I blogged about all this and the costs. It was all obvious from the start. But they all followed the money instead.


  4. Has G4S ever made donations to the Tory or Labour party?

    Is Teresa May herself a shareholder in G4S?

    Today we hear that G4S admits that it doesn’t know if many of the people due to be on duty for the Olympics can speak English. I wonder how pertinent that is to this panic.

    It looks for all the world like a marriage between the ‘diversity’ agenda of Whitehall giving out a contract to the private sector, which loves cheap migrant labour.

    Only this time, if the stories about the guards not being able to speak English is true, it’s exposed both the rapacious capitalist and the social engineer badly.

    Did G4S have the numbers of staff and then realise it didn’t have enough English speakers and then panic?

    How can guards unable to communicate in the indigenous language cope with an emergency?

    Moreover, what does it say to the rest of the world?

    Something like: ‘We have conducted a de facto eugenics programme with such success that we are unable to mobilise a workforce that can properly speak English.’ I don’t know if that’s true, but maybe Andrew Neather could enlighten us all next time he feels like a moment of candour.

    I very much wonder if G4S had the numbers in place and then realised what the front pages would be if the staff couldn’t speak English and then thought: ‘Let’s take the bad publicity now and tell Whitehall they need their own staff.’

    The plain fact is G4S thought for a long time that everything was OK and was going to fill Nick Buckles’ boots and then that has changed.

    Why did it change?


  5. Pingback: John Ward – Shambolympics G4S, Nick Buckles, And Rewarding Failure. Will Any Heads Roll In The Aftermath Of The G4S Fiasco? – 14 July 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  6. From a friend in Bournemouth
    “LOCOG have informed people living in Weymouth that overlook the sailing event, that they are not allowed to look over their fences or hang out of their windows to watch the events!!!!! ”

    Idle threat I guess as they want your money, don’t think it would stand up in a Court of Law


  7. Cynically 3500 short? Or seeing as we have an army we could just use them instead “but pocket the cash!”. Now that would not surprise me in the slightest with money somewhere straight into the back pocket.

    So again likely there was never any intention to employ the 3500, that was just lip service to say “oooh look at all these fantastic jobs we have created”. So the number of jobs created by the games is now 3500 less and nobody says anything about that.


  8. what a killer…you beat me to it…but i reckon it’s going to require a fair-sized sarcophagus to inter all the directors of locog, the cabinet-members of two governments, all their corrupt contractors, and boris – happily, the stadium should provide adequate accommodation, and converting it into a mausoleum of minging mismanagement will also neatly solve the irksome problem of what to do with the bloody thing after races have been run. it could even become quite a tourist attraction – like the catacombe dei cappuccini in palermo, or the great pyramids.


  9. customer service is integral to the success of g4s.

    here is just an arbitrary selection of entries from the wikipedia page on g4s:

    Security lapses at Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory

    On Jan. 24, 2012, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a Wackenhut security guard slept while on the job at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and had also used an unauthorized cellphone while inside the high-security facility.

    2004 to 2010

    G4S subsidiary Wackenhut, in September of 2005, faced allegations of security lapses at seven military bases where it was contracted to provide services. The company claimed the accusations were false and promoted by a union seeking to enroll its employees

    In March of 2006, whistle-blowers employed at Wackenhut released information to the press revealing that the company cheated on an anti-terrorism drill at a US nuclear site. It also performed poorly on another drill at a separate location. The allegations claimed that Wackenhut systematically violated weapons inventory and handling policies and that managers showed new hires spots at the facilities where they could take naps and cut corners during patrols.

    Corporate social responsibility

    In 2011, G4S became a signatory to the UN Global Compact, the international standard to promote socially responsible business behaviour including human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

    G4S is a founder signatory of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers (ICoC), a multi-stakeholder initiative convened by the Swiss government.


    During 2012, G4S has been recognised at the Recruiter’s Awards for Excellence with “Best International Recruitment Strategy” and as “Security Company of the Year” by the judging panel at the Event Production Awards.

    In June 2012, the British Security Industry Association awarded G4S’s Diversity and Inclusion team its ‘Contribution To The Community’ Award for their Remploy Baton Relay project, an initiative developed to celebrate employment success stories for disabled people.


    it’s such a shame when a well-loved household-name is tarnished forever by a wholly innocent miscalculation – especially when the company was doing so well.


  10. As with all similar revelations of this sort about people at the top making obscene amounts of money while displaying shocking levels of incompetence, my ghast is absolutely flabbered.
    I’m off to bed – another day above ground, maybe tomorrow will bring better news.


  11. g4s also has contracts in afghanistan (god-only knows what they get-up-to out there), so i suppose that g4s must basically be a private branch of the united states military and the central intelligence agency – an extremely nefarious organisation, which, thanks to a cover-story provided by the london olympics media-centre, now appears to have constructed a handy headquarters slap-bang in the heart of east-london where it can keep a close eye on blacks, asians, muslims, commies, anarchists, and bloggers…

    …and just one last thought on g4s…i wonder…do they do poppy-farming too?


  12. you’ll all be laughing on the other side of your faces when i bring home the olympic gold-medal for the high-jump.


  13. the wide-boy warlord’s obviously an exec who walks with the top spooks -mainly to scoop up their poop, one imagines. how long before we have u.s. drones deployed over london to take out dissenters?


  14. Is it really gold?

    I thought Gordon had sold it all. Where did they get it from — and what did they have to pay for it ????


  15. It’s a trial run for the future development of Happy Camps to house dissenters and assorted welfare wallies who don’t wish to be part of society. All they need to do is install the 12 foot wire fence around it…


  16. The problem with these government contracts is there are only a few companies who can tender its not like 100 companies are involved. So a cosy little click is set up with government and civil servants thinking of nice handouts down the line. The ex Met Commissioner Condon is surprise surprised employed by G4s on £195k a year…says it all really. Taxpayers money is there to be plundered.


  17. no, they are not real gold, of course – this year, as part of a government pledge to make london 2012 the greenest games ever, we are presenting the world’s premier athletes with fairtrade-choccy medals wrapped in biodegradable tin-foil. yum-yum.


  18. Pingback: At the End of the Day | A diary of deception and distortion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s