Introduction – July 12, 2012
The British Army has stepped in to plug gaps in Olympic security, after measures provided by private contractors were exposed as wanting. More significantly however, this story and the way it has developed raises more questions about the corporate media’s agenda.
Internet journalists first questioned security arrangements at the Olympics weeks ago.
However only after questions were raised in parliament over the security provided by G4S, the private company contracted to guard games venues, has the corporate media finally covered the issue.
Prior to this they ignored it. One might even say they did so deliberately. For when independent journalist Ben Fellows approached them with revelations about lapses in security, which he had uncovered while working undercover for G4S, the corporate media wasn’t interested.
Indeed, when Fellows contacted Channel 4 News with the story he was told “there’s a media blackout on this kind of story” and “that nobody would be interested in running it”.
That was a month ago but now the Army has been called in to cover gaps in security the corporate media can hardly ignore it. So like the Financial Times below, they are now reporting concerns over Olympic ‘security “shambles”’.
What they don’t mention however is G4S’s close links to Israel. As Nick Kollerstrom has pointed out:
“G4S provides services to Israeli prisons, police army. Palestinian political prisoners from the occupied territories are held by G4S in contravention of international law. It provides security equipment and personnel to shops, supermarkets and businesses in the illegal West Bank settlements”.
In fact Israeli security companies often seem to go hand-in-hand with terror atrocities. The way an Israeli firm handled the security arrangements at all the 9/11 airports. Or the way Israeli owned security firm ICTS has been linked to the London tube stations in the 7/7 attacks.
Coincidence or not, we may breath a little easier now the army has been called in to plug gaps in security. For these lapses seemed an open invitation for terror, or at least a false flag.
Nonetheless, this whole episode raises serious questions about the corporate media’s coverage of events. Once again independent Internet outlets have provided groundbreaking news coverage; while the corporate media has tagged along behind and only reported what the authorities have allowed or what is simply too obvious to ignore.
Army steps in as G4S falls short for Olympics
Helen Warrell and James Blitz – FT.com July 12, 2012
Olympic security organisers and G4S, the company contracted to guard games venues, were battling to restore faith in their operations on Thursday as the home secretary admitted the armed forces would have to fill a last-minute shortfall in private security staff.
Amid fiery questioning from fellow MPs Theresa May denied charges from the opposition that she was presiding over a security “shambles”, and admitted that the G4S personnel shortfall had only “crystallised” 24 hours earlier, despite close Home Office supervision of the £284m contract.
G4S – the world’s largest security provider by sales – also came under intense criticism, as Keith Vaz, the Labour MP and chair of the home affairs select committee, said the contractual breakdown only 15 days before the games was a matter of “deep concern”.
“G4S has let the country down and we have literally had to send in the troops,” Mr Vaz said. Philip Hollobone, a Conservative MP, even suggested the company should not be awarded any other government contracts until it had paid “every last penny” of penalty costs.
While the company was contracted to deliver about 10,500 venue security staff, it only has 4,000 stationed at games venues and admitted on Thursday that 9,000 more people were “going through the final stages of the required extensive training, vetting and accreditation process”. A leaked email showed it was still trying to recruit former police officers with some level of security clearance to bolster its Olympic operation.
Calling on the armed forces to supply 3,500 more personnel on top of the 13,500 troops it had agreed to provide for the Olympics creates embarrassment for the Home Office, which is already fighting claims that it has not done enough to ease airport border delays for games visitors. The last-minute deployment triggered fury at the Ministry of Defence, coming at a time when the department is under pressure because of operations in Helmand and recent cuts to army units.
Philip Hammond, defence secretary, made it clear on Thursday that he would ask the Home Office to pay the full costs. “We [the MoD] will be reimbursed the full marginal cost of the additional military contribution, not just accommodation and allowances but the costs of training programmes being disrupted,” he told a committee of MPs. “The principle is that the MoD should not suffer any financial disadvantage from providing this support.”
Asked what this would mean for G4S, he said: “Home Office and Locog will have a commercial negotiation with [the company] and we would not want to interfere with that.” Ms May reassured MPs that all the costs would be met from the £553m budget for venue security, and that financial penalties would be imposed on G4S for failing to meet its obligations.
However, with Labour criticising the Home Office’s management of the contract and G4S’s performance, both have taken a battering to their reputations. G4S said it was still “committed” to the Olympics security plan, and argued that the “unprecedented and very complex security recruitment” exercise was being carried “to a very tight schedule”.
In a separate development, Surrey Police Authority admitted that the failure of G4S to deliver its games contract had been a factor in its decision – announced on Thursday – to suspend its participation in a £1.5bn Home Office-backed contract to outsource some of its operations to a private provider. The company already has a similar contract with Lincolnshire police.