MD's responsibility or accountability?
by Andy Minifie - National Managing Partner on 27 July 2012
I don’t know if you heard the persecution of Nick Buckles, the head of G4S at the recent parliamentary enquiry over the Olympic security debacle, but I did, and I actually felt sorry for the guy.
Yes his company had promised to recruit and train thousands of security guards for the Olympics and had failed, but was a public lambasting by Keith Vaz the right way to find out what had happened?
He was desperate and almost monosyllabic in his responses but some of that must have been working out how he got there and where he was going next. Presumably the government department responsible for the contract will take G4S to court shortly and I am sure that Nick Buckles knew that everything he was saying to Keith Vaz was being taken down and would be used against him and his firm in the future.
I know that deciding you could recruit 7,500 people for a fixed term short contract on minimum wage with only 6 weeks notice was naïve, but the right place to get retribution for that is what the courts are for.
It must have been very tempting for Nick Buckles to say that security for the Olympics might have been easier if MP’s had not been instrumental in handing out passports to overseas citizens in the past, but I presume he decided not to!
There is a difference between “responsibility” and “accountability” I don’t think that Nick personally was responsible for the debacle but there is no doubt about it if you are going to be a high profile MD and take on a high profile contract then you need to accept that you are accountable for it. So hold him accountable but do not persecute the individual.
So where will this end up, we have had a great Olympics, and security has been maintained, but what of Nick Buckles? Its evident that his chairman, John Connelly, has lost confidence in him, and that the company will need to act before the investors lose confidence in it. So there is no doubt in my mind, Nick Buckles will have to carry the can and go. Just like Bob Diamond who carried the can at Barclays following the LIBOR scandal, but hang on Bob walked away with a £2m payoff, I wonder what Nick will get? Maybe I don’t feel so sorry for him after all!
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