Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Security Shambles at Olympic Venue

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Security Shambles at Olympic Venue

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

CALLS were today made for an independent inquiry after the Chronicle revealed three suspected illegal immigrants were drafted in by Olympic chiefs to protect St James' Park.

The bogus workers - employed as security guards - were arrested during a joint operation by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Northumbria Police just hours before Tyneside's Olympic celebrations began.

Now, as Newcastle prepares to welcome the second round of fixtures - which include the likes of Spain and Japan - criticism has been levelled at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for failing to carry out the proper security checks.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, said: "This is deeply concerning and raises serious questions about the vetting procedures that have been used.

"But it also raises questions about whether this government still has a sufficient grip on the security arrangements in place with only hours to go before the games actually started."

Staff from the UKBA made the arrests on Wednesday after acting on intelligence and carrying out routine checks. The Home Office was unable to release the nationalities or ages of those arrested.

It is understood those arrested were brought into Newcastle by LOCOG from a security company based elsewhere in the country. A spokesman from the UKBA said the arrests showed "security checks" were working but despite repeated calls to LOCOG, it failed to respond to our questions about the incident.

Now criticism has been heaped on the organisation surrounding the security blunder. Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, said: "We want the games to be a welcoming and quality experience for everybody from the area and everybody visiting the area.

"People from LOCOG and the Government need to ask themselves if they are going to be able to deliver that by awarding contracts on the lowest tender. …

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