Thanks to the Telegraph, we now know some of what Matthew Hancock MP and his Tory colleagues wanted to keep private at the Public Accounts Committee meeting yesterday. The whistle blower is Eddie Hutchinson, an accountant who was appointed head of internal audit at A4e in 2010. The paper has put the whole of his evidence online here.
Hutchinson had previously worked for Working Links, where he uncovered a level of fraud which he described as "farcical" and which was ignored by management. As later with A4e, he said that the bonus system was to blame. Hutchinson was made redundant by Working Links and then went to work for A4e. He found a similar situation there. By February 2011 he was dealing with the Slough case, which, he said, should have been referred to the police earlier. "He claimed he also became aware of a fraud on the New Deal for Disabled People contract from A4e’s Glasgow office. In this case, he said, an employee resigned, saying she had falsified evidence and misappropriated cash. At the time, he made a note it was a 'regular occurrence' that no action was taken against people admitting to fraud." There were numerous other cases in different contracts. He was supposed to be helping A4e to develop watertight risk controls, but noticed no "significant enhancements". His advice was not heeded. "After seven months at A4e, Mr Hutchinson said in evidence that he was convinced he had seen 'unethical behaviour, mismanagement, inadequate corporate governance, and risk management, and excessive payments in the form of salaries and bonuses'. He has told MPs: 'In my professional view, it was systemic.'" A4e denies this, of course. It's all in the past.
Surely this sort of evidence can't be brushed under the carpet.
The Exaro website has published the 2009 internal A4e report. It can be downloaded from the site here (you will have to register with the site). We'll be examining that soon.