Family champion forced to resign

By Graham Fahy

The government adviser hired to get 120,000 'problem families' back to work resigned yesterday amid allegations of fraud at her firm.

David Cameron appointed Emma Harrison and her company A4e, formerly known as Action for Employment, to run the government's scheme to make unemployed people work without pay.

Ms Harrison has struggled to retain credibility since it was revealed she was paid £8.6 million in dividends last year despite her firm's failure to meet targets on finding jobs for the unemployed.

Four former employees of A4e, formerly known as Action for Employment, were arrested in January on suspicion of fraud and police officers have raided the A4e offices in search of evidence.

The company revealed that a former A4e subcontractor is being investigated in a separate police investigation.

It has also emerged that firm, which was paid £180 million of public money last year, has been at the heart of investigations into alleged financial irregularities five times since 2005.

"I have asked to step aside from my voluntary role as family champion as I do not want the current media environment to distract from the very important work with troubled families," Ms Harrison said in a statement.

"I remain passionate about helping troubled families and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute in an area where I have been active for many years."

The allegations of fraud are believed to have led Mr Cameron to question Ms Harrison's suitability as a government adviser.