Transactions were legitimate, claims Emma

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SHEFFIELD businesswoman Emma Harrison has denied any wrongdoing over reports she received £1.7 million from leasing out properties - including her stately home, Thornbridge Hall near Bakewell - to her welfare-to-work business.

It has been reported the money was paid into two companies and a pension fund in which Mrs Harrison or her husband, Jim, had a controlling interest.

But in a statement at the weekend, Mr and Mrs Harrison said their personal finances and those of the companies they owned were ‘legal, above board, open and transparent’.

“We have never misused or redirected funds through our companies. Any transactions between our companies is 100 per cent legitimate and has a full audit trail.

“We own personal properties personally, not through companies. We own business properties in businesses, not personally. The two are not to be confused.

“Our personal finances, and the finances of the companies we own, are legal, above board, open and transparent and fully audited for legality.

“To suggest or report otherwise is false and we will take the appropriate legal action if claims to the contrary are made.”

Mrs Harrison, a 48-year-old mother-of-four, paid herself a dividend of £8.6mlast year despite her firm failing to meet its targets for finding jobs for the unemployed.

On Friday, Mrs Harrison announced she was standing down as chairman of A4e - the Sheffield firm she built up and which made millions from Government contracts for getting the jobless back into work.

The night before she quit as an unpaid ‘family champion’ advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron following the disclosure that A4e was at the centre of a police fraud investigation.

Four employees at A4e’s Slough office are currently on police bail.