Home Secretary Theresa May accused of giving ‘selective account’ of G4S Olympics chaos


By a Newsnet reporter
Home Secretary Theresa May has come under more pressure today following news that her department knew three weeks ago that G4S was having problems providing guards for the London Olympics.
The revelations call into question claims made by the Conservative Minister who told the Commons the “absolute gap in numbers” was not known until July 11.

It has now emerged that the Home Secretary was aware of problems in security recruitment as early as June 27th.  The details of when she knew of the problems were contained in a letter sent by Mrs May to the Commons Select Committee which has been set up to look into the shambles.

Mrs May wrote: “On June 27 G4S and Locog attended an Olympics Security Board meeting at the Home Office and said they were experiencing scheduling problems.

“They warned of a possible temporary shortfall in G4S deployed number from July 1.

“G4S were unable to specify the size of the shortfall and could say only that it would be ‘significantly less than 1,000’.

“G4S stated that the shortfall was mainly due to the failure to take account of the fact that large parts of their workforce would be unable to begin work before July 27.”

Mrs May went on: “Locog and G4S were pressed to clarify the shortfall and factors which had created it urgently.

“The meeting considered a possible short-term and temporary call on the military contingency force (MCF) which had been created for Olympics purposes.”

Mrs May admitted that permission to put “a small part of the MCF” on 24 hours notice was sought as early as June 28, with the force being mobilised “several days later”.

“But at this stage, of course, G4S were still confident that they would deliver the required numbers,” Mrs May said.

“However, as we now know, this is no longer the case.

“On July 11 G4S told the Olympic Security Board for the first time that they were no longer confident of reaching their workforce targets.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Home Secretary was asked repeatedly when she and the Home Office were warned about problems at G4S, and she repeatedly gave everyone the impression they had only known since July 11.

“Why has Theresa May waited until now to admit the Home Office in fact were warned two weeks earlier? She needs to explain urgently how she justifies having given Parliament and the public such a selective account, and why the Home Office were so slow to respond.”

The admission will increase the pressure on the under fire cabinet minister who has faced criticism after troops and police from across the UK had to be mobilised in order to plug the security gaps left after security firm G4S admitted they could not provide the number of personnel required.

Yesterday it was confirmed that a further 1,200 troops are to be placed on standby.

An MoD spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are putting a further 1,200 troops on standby as a sensible and prudent measure to provide resilience to the Olympic security effort.

“This is in addition to the military contributions already announced and will help re-build our contingency.

“The Government has judged that there is no current need to deploy these additional personnel who will only be called on to deploy if needed – but safety and security for the Games is the highest priority and so we must prepare for every contingency.

“As we have previously said, no member of the of the armed forces will lose leave or be left out of pocket due to Olympics duties.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband has now called for G4S to be blocked from getting new Government contracts in the wake of the Olympics security shambles.

The Labour leader said no more deals should be signed until a review had been carried out to ensure the firm was fit to provide services.

Mr Miliband’s comments followed claims that Olympic Organisers had encouraged G4S to pay a lower than usual rate of pay for their security staff.

Causing some discomfort for the Labour leader is the news that a former party colleague is a director of the under fire company.  Dr John Reid having become a Director of G4S in 2010, after a spell as a consultant, earning £50,000 per year.