24 Oct 2012

Emma Harrison: ‘I’m a useful face to have a go at’

Exclusive: In her first TV interview since stepping down from A4e Emma Harrison tells Channel 4 News that she was “bullied out of a job”.

The interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy followed an exclusive report revealing that only four-in-100 people found a job through A4e, but the company still received a major payout.

Emma Harrison gave her first interview since she stepped down from A4e – the private company paid by the government to find work for the long term unemployed. The report on Channel 4 News revealed how badly the firm had performed at its key task.

Leaked figures show that in the first year of the coalition’s “Work Programme” only 4 per cent of A4e‘s unemployed clients found jobs lasting more than six months. But A4e was paid millions and Ms Harrison made hundreds of thousands of pounds because she is still the biggest shareholder.

She said: “A lot of the details are wrong and last time you did a piece you were wrong. I cannot recognise these numbers.”

Ms Harrison declined to explain which figures were wrong, saying “stop bullying me …you’ve been making up stories, having a go.”

“I have invested £50m in the success of the work programme…I remortgaged my house to do it.”

She apologised to two people featured in case studies report, who were unhappy with their service from A4e. But she challenged their accounts saying “it’s a very improbable statement.”

See Channel 4 News Social Affairs Editor Jackie Long respond to Emma Harrison's interview

Describing the media focus on A4e, Harrison said: “I was bullied out of a job. …my children were bullied. I really think its time that this bullying stopped. Bullying entrepreneurs is not good for the UK.”

Krishnan Guru-Murthy said: “We’re not bullying you, we’re putting legitimate questions – a lot of money has gone to you personally.”

She replied: “A4e is a wonderful company and I’m incredibly proud of the organisation.

“What makes me sad is that my staff were bullied and it’s very upsetting after 25 years to see what they went through – these false allegations, sensationalist stuff. I’m a useful face to have a go at – but I’m not a politician.

“I’m not experienced at this stuff….They used me, and I stepped down, which is still upsetting.”