A controversial security contractor criticised for its use of cheap labour via the government’s workfare schemes has gone bust owing HMRC nearly £600,000 in unpaid taxes, Political Scrapbook can reveal.
Close Protection UK were authorised to fulfil an £850,000 Olympic fire marshals contract despite being embroiled in the ‘Jubilee Stewards’ scandal, which saw unemployed people forced to sleep rough in London before working for free at the Jubilee pageant.
The manner of the bankruptcy will likely lead to questions for home secretary Theresa May, Olympic organisers LOCOG and security regulators SIA, who were warned about myriad controversies linked to the company. These include illegal access to to the police national computer, crashing a bus full of Olympics workers on the M40, fake university offices and its owner Molly Prince’s conviction for, errr, perverting the course of justice.
Close Protection UK was finally wound up leaving a £316,000 VAT bill and almost £270,000 in PAYE owed to HM Revenue & Customs. Prince claims she was left with the bill after the Olympics contract turned out to be “unprofitable.”
Speaking to Scrapbook this afternoon, Prince made out the company had been screwed over by LOCOG, who had constantly moved the goalposts:
“We were underpaid against our expectations. There were masses of changes. It changed on a daily basis. The requirements of the contract changed in regards to manning levels, types of men…it was a fluid, rolling contract.”
LOCOG’s gold medal-winning security foul up first emerged when G4S, the contractor they paid £88m to provide staff, made an 11th hour announcement that they couldn’t do the background checks in time. This resulted in the police and armed forces having to pick up the slack — and G4S boss Nick Buckles’ eventual resignation.
CPUK was wound up a week after its Approved Contractor Status was withdrawn by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Although Prince claims this was because CPUK voluntarily ceased trading, the SIA website states that CPUK had their approval withdrawn for “non-conformance” with ACS standard.
Regular readers will remember Scrapbook’s comprehensive coverage of the Jubilee stewards scandal — and it turns out Prince too is a fan, telling our investigations editor this afternoon:
“You guys single handedly almost ripped my business apart after the Jubilee.”
We’re always happy to help.
READ SCRAPBOOK’S POSTS ON THIS COMPANY HERE: CLOSE PROTECTION UK