Yorkshire entrepreneur Emma Harrison has quit her role as chairwoman of welfare-to-work firm A4e amid allegations of fraud at the company.
Ms Harrison said last night that she was leaving the company as she did not want the “continuing media focus” on her to be a “distraction” for the company.
The announcement comes just 24 hours after she quit her role as an unpaid Downing Street adviser on Thursday as the controversy regarding the police fraud investigation into A4e intensified.
In a statement, Ms Harrison said: “This has been a very tough decision for me, as I have spent my entire 25-year career building up this business and I believe so strongly in the importance of the work it does.
“But it is precisely because this work is so important that I do not want the continuing media focus on me to be any distraction for A4e, for its more than 3,500 employees, and for the tens of thousands of people across the UK and globally that look to this company to give them hope of finding employment.”
The fraud probe has resulted in a great deal of pressure from the head of a Commons public spending watchdog for A4e’s Government contracts to be suspended.
The controversy surrounding Ms Harrison has been highly embarrassing for Prime Minister David Cameron who had been an enthusiastic supporter. A spokesman for Downing Street last night declined to pass any further comment, having previously said that the Prime Minister respected her decision to stand down.
The fraud probe saw four former members of staff arrested in January, following a visit by Thames Valley Police to A4e’s headquarters in Slough late last week.
Two women aged 28 and 49, and two men, aged 35 and 41, are on police bail until mid-March.
A4e chief ‘devastated’ to step down: Section 1 News: Page 6.