U.K. Labour Party Struggles to Find Security for Conference After G4S Ditched Over Israeli Ties

The party, which is slated to hold its annual conference in September, opted not to renew its contract with G4S, but finding an alternative has proved highly difficult, potentially putting the entire conference at risk of cancellation.

A G4S Plc logo sits on a barrier outside the company's headquarters in Crawley, U.K.
Bloomberg

The British Labour Party may be forced to cancel its annual conference unless it finds a replacement for security firm G4S, which was dropped over the company's purported commercial links to Israel's prison system.

Britain's Daily Telegraph news website reported the story on Wednesday, citing leaked emails sent to the party's general secretary Iain McNicol.

"The party's national executive committee voted last year to boycott G4S after the Palestine Solidarity Campaign claimed the company was linked to 'Israeli prisons which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel,'" the Daily Telegraph reported.

The situation has prompted concerns that the British Home Office, the equivalent of Israel's Interior Ministry, might not allow the conference to convene if proper security arrangements are not made for the gathering, which is slated to open in Liverpool on September 25.

G4S recently is said to have decided to wrap up its business activities in Israel and the West Bank, insisting that it was a financially-motivated move and not the product of anti-Israel protests.

A spokesman for G4S told the British edition of the Huffington Post that the company had not actually been formally approached to provide security for this year's Labour Party conference, but added: “G4S has secured the Labour Party’s annual conference for over 20 years and the feedback from officials and the police on our work last year, as in the past, was extremely positive. Clearly we are disappointed not to continue such a successful working relationship,” a company spokesman said. Three security firms are understood to have turned down the opportunity to provide security at the conference "and one withdrew their bid after carrying out a risk assessment," the Daily Telegraph reported. 

The prospect of using another firm, Showsec, is complicated by allegations that it has been preventing employees from unionizing, a sensitive issue in a party that has traditionally been closely allied with organized labor.

A Labour Party spokesman declined to comment.