Tag Archives: London 2012 Olympics

Workfare Olympics contractor goes bust owing taxpayer £600,000

Close Protection UK bankrupt

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CPUK was wound up a week after its Approved Contractor Status was withdrawn by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).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Prince claims this was because CPUK voluntarily ceased trading, the SIA website states that CPUK had their approval withdrawn for “non-conformance” with ACS standard.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

Illegal blacklisting conspiracy at London 2012 Aquatics Centre

London 2012 Aquatics Centre

An Olympics construction firm looked to block jobseekers from working on the site of the Aquatics Centre — simply for their trade union activities. In a letter sent to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), Balfour Beatty said they checked job applicants against an illegal blacklist operated by the Consulting Association.

The news comes as a blow to ODA chief exec Dennis Hone, who repeatedly denied a conspiracy against Olympics jobseekers — despite operators of the blacklist admitting under oath that checks had been conducted by companies including Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and “possibly” Skanska. Their illegal scheme was brought to a grinding halt in 2009 after the offices of the Consulting Association were raided by regulators.

Hone told the London Assembly last November:

“The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise.”

But it was a month after his grilling by the Budget and Performance Committee that Hone took the revolutionary step of, erm, writing to Balfour and asking them. Their response reveals that they checked 12 new jobseekers against a blacklist — but could not put a figure on the number screened before transfer from other Balfour projects.

One of the most senior executives implicated in the scandal, Sir Robert McAlpine executive Callum McAlpine, faces a committee of MPs next Tuesday.

Closing ceremony: MP asks “Why is Jessie J dressed as a vajazzle?”

Perhaps inspired by Aidan Burley, Lib Dem Greg Mulholland took to Twitter last night to promulgate his observations on the Olympic closing ceremony.

Observing Jessie J’s flesh-coloured leotard decorated with sparkly bits, the Leeds MP claimed that the Domino singer’s outfit reminded him of a particular grooming practice beloved of The Only Way Is Essex:

“Why is Jessie J dressed as a vajazzle?”

Another addition to ‘Things You Shouldn’t Tweet As An MP’.

Pakistani Olympians hosted two minutes from Aidan Burley office

Scrapbook wonders how Aidan Burley’s complaint that the London 2012 opening ceremony was “multi-cultural crap” will be received by the Pakistani Olympic delegation — whose only medal hope, the hockey team, stayed in Burley’s Cannock constituency while preparing for the games.

His remarks are particularly embarrassing given that the opening ceremony specifically highlighted immigration from Commonwealth countries such as Pakistan. Scrapbook can exclusively reveal that the team stayed at the Ramada hotel in Cannock — just two minutes away from Aidan Burley’s office.

A statement from Cannock Hockey Club said:

“Following extensive efforts by Staffordshire County Council and Cannock Hockey Club to attract a top tier team to the world-class facilities, the Pakistan Hockey Federation selected the Hockey Club … as its training base to fine tune their preparations for the summer games.”

But as we all know, skiing is more Aidan Burley’s sort of thing.

Olympic PR of the week

With companies falling over themselves to profit from the Olympics — but without breaching onerous legislation designed to protect official sponsors such as McDonald’s — we had to admire this bit of brinkmanship from Specsavers. Perhaps staff at Hampden Park could do with an eye test.

Political Scrapbook is officially a website during the Olympic games.

Boris Johnson’s Olympic welcome

If you think this is weird, remember that Boris Johnson’s Olympics transport announcements — boomed over train station tannoys in a manner in which George Orwell would surely approve — are actually real.

Tory councillor apologises for boozy rant at Olympic torch event

UPDATE: Cllr Wedderburn was subsequently censured by a council committee, which also found that he had told the competition winner to “fuck off”. How charming.

A Tory councillor subjected a member of the public to a booze-fuelled tirade at an official Olympic torch event. Cllr Laurance Wedderburn offered the combination of hot weather, stress and “a few glasses of wine” as his excuse for letting rip at an innocent competition winner:

“It was a combination of being very tired and stressed about my job, and I had a few glasses of wine and obviously it went to my head in the sunshine. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”

Victim Katherine Green, who won tickets to the Olympic torch ceremony at Waltham Forest town hall in recognition of her photography of athletes 1948 London games, claims that Wedderburn angrily swore at her after after she praised council support for an art exhibition:

“He started asking me ‘are you lobbying me?’ in a really aggressive tone … I do not know what else would provoke such abusive language. No matter what went on in his mind, this is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

London mayor Boris Johnson said the Olympics was a “gigantic schmoozathon” — not a “gigantic boozathon”.

G4S seek spin doctor with “personal credibility” after Olympics shambles

Beleaguered private security firm G4S are seeking a PR Manager who has “personal credibility”, seemingly to lift them out of the negative coverage hole they’ve found themselves in the wake of the Olympic security fiasco.

The advert, caught by Simon Francis, promises a £35-40k salary, but the successful candidate will have their work cut out for them, after a bruising week for the company. It was announced last week that the army would have to step in to cover a shortfall in security personnel, and the the company’s boss agreed yesterday that the whole affair had been a “humiliating shambles”.

The revelation that they were struggling to get even the guards they had secured to turn up after abysmal communication left many of them in the dark saw share prices dive, a situation which wasn’t helped by an unedifying performance by CEO Nick Buckles at the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Still, G4S have no shortage of establishment backers, with both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt keen to defend them.

Scrapbook isn’t sure about Hunt’s “personal credibility”, though.

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