I was bullied out of A4E, says company founder Emma Harrison


The founder of a welfare-to-work firm has claimed she was “bullied” out of her job in a Westminster “maelstrom” as she rejected claims that it was missing targets for a Government work scheme.

Emma Harrison, who quit as chairman of A4e in February amid fraud investigations into the firm, said she had been a "useful face for the politics people to have a go at".

And she complained that her children had also faced bullying as a result.

She hit out as she was grilled last night by Channel 4 News about figures it said suggested A4e had found jobs lasting at least six months for fewer than 4% of people referred under the Work Programme.

That would be below the 5.5% minimum demanded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for private firms involved in the payment-by-results arrangement.

Ms Harrison, who remains A4e's biggest shareholder, repeatedly said the information was "wrong" but that she was not able to supply the correct figures.

"What really, really matters is that through the Work Programme tens of thousands of people are getting jobs," she said - claiming the taxpayer gets £2 back for every pound spent.

Official statistics on the performance of the programme are due to be released by the DWP, which declined to comment on leaked information, later this year.

A4e came under fire for paying £11 million in dividends last year, 87% to Ms Harrison, despite all its £160 million-£180 million UK turnover resulting from Government welfare contracts.

Amid pressure for it to be suspended from Government work pending fraud investigations, she quit first as an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron and then as head of the firm.

An increasingly vociferous Ms Harrison repeatedly insisted that the latest figures were "all wrong" and part of an ongoing attempt to discredit the operation of the Work Programme.

"I was bullied out of a job that I had been doing for 25 years.

"It's time this bullying stopped. Bullying entrepreneurs like me, someone like me who has invested tens of millions and employed thousands of people, it's not good for the UK."

She went on: "We were caught in this political maelstrom. I am a useful face for the politics people to have a go at.

"I am not a politician, I am not a civil servant, I am not experienced in this stuff.

"But I was really useful to have a go at. And they used me and my organisation and I stepped down as the chairman, which is still incredibly upsetting as it's something I loved doing.

"When I meet people in the street and they say 'Oh, I recognise you, your lot got me that job. I'm now working at Marks & Spencer, it's transformed my life', I bloody love the work I do."

A4e, which said Ms Harrison was "speaking in a personal capacity", said: "We can categorically state that the information obtained by Channel 4 News at this time is out of date, has been previously cited, and is not data we recognise.

"Furthermore this data does not give a full or accurate picture of Work Programme performance."

It said the full figures would undergo "robust validation" by the DWP before publication.

Ms Harrison had not received a chairman's salary or dividend payment since stepping aside, a spokeswoman added.

A DWP spokeswoman said: "We don't comment on leaked data which we cannot verify.

"Early performance data will be published next month, and we will be working hard with providers to ensure the long-term unemployed have the best chance of getting into work."


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living