Emma Harrison: I was bullied out of A4e
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 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.
A4e said the data was "out of date, has been previously cited, and is not data we recognise" and did not give a "full or accurate picture of Work Programme performance".
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, saying: "I was bullied out of a job that I had been doing for 25 years. My staff have been bullied. And do you know what's worse? Because of the reporting you did my children have been bullied."