The boss of British security group G4S said Saturday he was sorry that his company had bungled the contract to help protect the 2012 Olympic Games, a humbling televised apology that followed days of ugly news about his firm's failures.
Nick Buckles spoke to the BBC as British newspapers were filled with accounts of chaotic recruitment, sloppy security, and even an allegation that some G4S staffers weren't fluent in English. The firm has not been able to provide enough guards, and some 3,500
British troops are being called in to help fill the gap in security and police have been put on notice that they may need to help fill the breach.
“We're deeply disappointed and we certainly are very sorry for what's happened over the last week or two,” the chief executive said. “It's a very complex process. No one's ever undertaken to recruit 10,000 fully-trained security staff for such a lengthy period of time.”
In December G4S PLC promised to provide that number of people to help keep the games safe. But Buckles said that the operation was a “mammoth undertaking” involving a complex recruitment operation in five or six different stages.
“Which bit of that was a surprise to you?” BBC anchor Charlie Stayt asked skeptically.
Buckles' comments came as the British unearthed one episode after another of apparent incompetence at the Crawley, England-based company.
The Daily Mirror tabloid quoted Sarah Hubble, whom it described as a former G4S recruiter, as saying that background checks were skipped to meet targets and that sensitive recruitment material was left lying around the company's offices. Its right-leaning rival, The Sun, quoted an unnamed former police officer as saying that some security guards couldn't speak English.
In earlier comments to BBC radio, Buckles couldn't guarantee that all his staffers spoke fluent English, saying it was a “difficult question to answer.”
“I am pretty sure that they can, but I can't say categorically as I sit here today,” he said.
Late Friday the company said it would foot the bill for the last-minute military deployment, putting the cost at up to 50
million pounds ($78 million.) -Sapa-AP