UK & World News
Olympics: More Troops Could Go On Standby
The Government is making plans to deploy an extra 2,000 troops to cover Olympic security gaps left by G4S, Sky News has learned.
Another 3,500 soldiers have already had to be drafted in after the beleaguered firm admitted it was not going to be able to provide the 10,400 guards it had promised, taking the full deployment to 17,000.
But Sky's Defence and Security Editor Sam Kiley has discovered a further 2,000 are also being kept in reserve as a contingency in case there are further issues.
The news came ahead of an annoucement this afternoon that the Home Affairs Select Committee has recalled G4S boss Nick Buckles to give evidence again on September 11.
Mr Buckles faced the committee yesterday and was forced to acknowledge that his company's failure to provide enough guards for the Olympics had been a "humiliating shambles".
He will reappear at the committee on the same day as Home Secretary Theresa May.
Meanwhile, a final decision on whether to officially put the extra 2,000 troops on "notice to move" will be taken this Thursday - just eight days before the opening ceremony, according to a Home Office source.
The source said: "This comes after very intrusive examination of G4S management and, while we are confident that recruitment targets will be met, it is prudent to make contingency plans of this kind.
"If the decision is taken, it will mean that the personnel will be told to be ready to move but will not be moved."
Kiley said: "These extra 2,000 personnel, if they are told to be ready to move, will not be able to do anything else. They will be a reserve force there to cover any gaps both in the military but, above all, in G4S's recruitment campaign."
The potential further deployment will increase concerns about where soldiers are being housed for the duration of the Games and their living conditions.
"If they get moved in at very short notice, the living conditions they face will be that much more austere," Kiley said.
"A Home Office source has said, 'We will look after them.' What that really means is that they will be going to G4S and saying, 'We need some money - it's your mess, you've failed to meet the terms of the contract and this isn't going to come out of public funds.'"
An MoD spokesman said: "Should there be a requirement for additional military personnel the MoD will do whatever possible to make them available. At the present time no further requests have been received but, as people would expect, an ongoing programme of prudent planning continues."
The plans emerged after G4S chief executive Nick Buckles told MPs he wished the firm had never signed the contract to provide security for the Games.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, Mr Buckles insisted the company will still claim its £57m management fee.
The businessman, who is under pressure to quit his £830,000-a-year post, has promised that G4S will pay any costs to the military and police caused by the company's failure, including for their accommodation.
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson warned on Wednesday that the Government would activate "all penalty clauses" in the G4S contract and also signalled the £57m fee would be targeted.
Asked if Mr Buckles should resign, Mr Robertson suggested he should stay in his post until after the Olympics to avoid further turmoil.
"The important thing is that we deliver a safe and secure Games, and G4S remain a key partner in that, so I want stability in that firm and delivery. I don't want resignations causing chaos," he said.
"What happens to Mr Buckles afterwards is a matter for others in the post-Games environment."