Tory MPs 'gagged' welfare-to-work whistleblowers
The DWP confirmed it is investigating 11 other separate cases of fraud at A4E
Four whistleblowers were yesterday "gagged" by Tory MPs from giving public evidence about widespread fraud in the Government's controversial welfare-to-work programmes.
Conservative members of the powerful Public Accounts Committee blocked attempts to allow internal auditors from companies, including A4E, from giving evidence about past malpractice that they had uncovered.
Instead they were force to give evidence behind closed doors after Tories on the committee objected that the Department of Work and Pensions had not been given advance knowledge of their evidence. Last night a source on the committee suggested that the whistleblowers had been "gagged".
Another said they believed that pressure had been applied to the Tory MPs by the Government to ensure that more damaging evidence about the fraud on the programmes was not placed in the public domain.
The Conservatives have an outright majority on the committee and have the power to block the evidence given in private even to be considered in its final report.
"The evidence was damming," one MP on the committee said. "But the Tories blocked the hearing from being in public. We will have to see whether it can now be published at a later date – but that depends whether they vote together as a block to prevent it." When the session reopened to the public for the committee to question Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions, on the allegation that Austin Mitchell, a Labour MP, expressed concerns about what they had heard in private.
"We have just had a long closed session which produced some fairly damning indictment about both the structures and the practices in A4E and there were several indications of possible fraud," Mr Mitchell said.
Mr Devereux conceded that "they did sound damning" and promised that they would be investigated. But he insisted that they referred to past contracts and that new measures had been put in place by the department to ensure that such fraud could not happen in the future.
He also confirmed that 11 other separate cases of fraud at A4E were now being investigated by the department – despite claims by the company that there was no evidence of wrongdoing in those cases.
It is also understood that the evidence provided by the whistleblowers will now be provided to the police.
Matthew Hancock, a Tory MP who insisted that the whistleblowers evidence be given in private, said it was the correct thing to do. "The committee decided it would be inappropriate."
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
arts + entsThere were towering ideas, some scintillating performances and revelatory grooves... our writers pick out their personal highlights
peoplePrepare to be entranced by worms as the molecular biologist gets ready to give the Royal Institution science lectures
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial and the spirit has been lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
travelWill high-value tourism help the artisan workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
Ten best places to live in the UK: Hart in Hampshire takes top spot
Winter Solstice marks shortest day of the year
Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
Scientists ‘incredibly concerned’ for fate of banana as plagues and fungus infections spread across world’s supplies
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- < Previous
- Next >
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 6 Teacher - Gilli...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Teacher of English - S...
£59999 - £80001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top 10 firm in ...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...