Former Labour Minister walked through revolving door to Olympic shambles firm G4S


By a Newsnet reporter

It has emerged that a former Labour Government Minister and former Defence Secretary, is a Director in the firm responsible for the Olympic Games security shambles.

Former Scottish Labour MP, and now a Labour peer, John Reid was recruited by Olympic fiasco company G4S in 2008 when he took up a role as consultant to the controversial security firm.

The Scottish Labour politician, who earned the title Baron Reid of Cardowan after stepping down as an MP after Labour lost the 2010 general election, was appointed a consultant to G4S in December 2008 whilst still a Labour MP.

Dr Reid, the then MP for Airdrie and Shotts, had held several cabinet posts including Home Secretary and Minister for armed forces, was believed to have been paid £50,000 per year for the part time role, he became G4S director in July 2010.

Three months after recruiting the Labour MP, G4S were controversially awarded a four-year contract to supply private security guards for around 200 MoD and military sites across Britain.

The deal, thought to be worth tens of millions of pounds, resulted in criticism from opposition MPs who called it “totally inappropriate”.

G4S had been formed after a merger between security firms Group 4 and Securicor.  It has also been reported that Securicor had extensive contracts with the Home Office during Dr Reid’s spell at Whitehall.

At the time of Reid’s appointment with G4S, the firm were already operating in Iraq and Afghanistan after winning a major MoD contract to provide training to British Army units.  The former Defence Secretary claimed in 2006 that British Soldiers would complete their term in Afghanistan without a shot being fired.

G4S, which by the time of Dr Reid’s appointment had purchased another firm ArmorGroup – itself also operating in Iraq, also has a specialist offshoot business which offers the services of former British Gurkha soldiers to private contractors.

Speaking in 2009, SNP MP Angus Robertson described Dr Reid’s appointment to G4S as “totally inappropriate”.

He said: “Entering the war in Iraq was the worst UK foreign policy decision in living memory.  Our brave troops have had to pay the price of an illegal conflict and now it appears former Defence Secretaries are reaping personal financial rewards.”

Dr Reid was not the only controversial Whitehall figure to appear on the G4S payroll.  The firm also hired Dr Peter Collecott, former director of corporate affairs at the Foreign Office, and David Gould, the Ministry of Defence’s former chief operating officer in charge of defence equipment.

The firm also recruited Tom Wheatley, who spent 16 years in the English Prison Service and was a former Chief Executive of National Offender Management Service.

Mr Wheatley, once critical of privately run prisons, claimed private security firms had “brought little innovation to the management of custody”.   He added that the only gains from their involvement had come from “using fewer staff, paying lower wages, and providing less employment protection for staff.”

Shortly after joining G4S, he helped the company win a Lincolnshire police contract.

The security firm has faced claims of poor conditions and pay for staff.