There is no doubt whatever over which side Chris Grayling is on. On Channel 4 News tonight he said that there are "serious question marks about how substantial and how correct the evidence ... is; serious potential misunderstandings." The evidence, of course, is that which Eddie Hutchinson gave to the Public Accounts Committee about what he'd found at A4e. But Grayling insists, "We haven't found fraud at A4e," after the investigation by Ernst & Young. And now he's attacking the PAC, accusing them of not disclosing this evidence until the meeting, when it should have gone to those conducting the audit for the DWP. Says Channel 4 News, "Mr Duncan Smith's letter continued: 'I can only reach the conclusion that the committee has held back details from the DWP in order to generate media coverage.'"
Margaret Hodge says that she's very upset about the leak to the Telegraph and will launch an enquiry. The initial Telegraph story suggested that the paper had simply spoken to someone who was there at the meeting. The subsequent publication of the document containing his evidence must have a similar source; it's annotated, as if it's one of those copies handed out to committee members.
With Grayling's colours pinned firmly to the mast, Hutchinson is now being portrayed as a liar. Perhaps A4e will try to paint him as an embitterd ex-employee who failed in his job. How can the rest of us know who's right? There's one point which might clarify matters. Hutchinson didn't join A4e until 2010. It was a year before that when A4e compiled its own internal report which showed serious fraud and potential fraud. So was that seriously incorrect as well?
If you get all your news from the BBC you wouldn't know anything about this. As usual, they are pretending it hasn't happened.