Regulator launches probe into Oxfam in wake of scandal

Field workers for oxfam

Deputy chief executive quits 

13th February 2018 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Oxfam is under investigation by the charity regulator over its handling of the 2011 sex scandal in Haiti.

Penny Lawrence, Oxfam’s deputy chief executive, resigned over the charity's response to the revelations yesterday.

The Charity Commission has said the charity did not reveal full details about the scandal and will now undertake its own inquiry.

It comes as whistleblower Helen Evans, who worked as Oxfam's global head of safeguarding between 2012 and 2015, claimed an Oxfam aid worker coerced a woman to have sex "in exchange for aid."

Evans said she resigned in 2015 because her allegations were not being treated seriously.

She then went to the Charity Commission with the allegations which, she says, didn’t repond.

Penny Lawrence said in her resignation statement that she was ashamed and took full responsibility for the scandal.

“Concerns were raised about the behaviour of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon," she said.

"It is now clear that these allegations - involving the use of prostitutes and which related to the behaviour of both the country director and members of his team in Chad - were raised before he moved to Haiti."

Allegations emerged on Friday claiming Oxfam's country director for Haiti, Roland van Hauwermeiren, used prostitutes at a villa rented for him by Oxfam in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

According to the allegations, Oxfam knew about concerns over the conduct of van Hauwermeiren and another man when they worked in Chad before they were given senior roles in Haiti.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said the use of prostitutes was not contrary to Oxfam's code of conduct at the time but still brought Oxfam into disrepute.

Oxfam has announced new measures for handling of sexual abuse cases, saying it would introduce tougher vetting of staff and mandatory safeguarding training for new recruits.

However it might be too late to save the charity’s huge income. European Union officials, who granted the charity nearly £47m last year through various funding streams, are considering cutting their award in the wake of the allegations while the Department for International Development is sizing up its response and considering its options, it said.

Meanwhile the Innocent drinks company - one of Oxfam's corporate sponsors which donates around £100,000 per year- said it wants to see a clear plan "for how this could not ever happen again."

13th February 2018 by jeremy

I also notice how this story is splashed across all mainstream media (not TFN obviously!), conveniently relegating the more critical government articles about the NI power sharing failure, appalling treatment by the Home Office of Asylum Seekers and shameful DWP/ PiP report to the side bars.And before anyone jumps in, I am NOT trying to trivialise this and I hope it will serve to bring about real and lasting change in how aid agencies conduct themselves. But it must be a relief for May to have the spotlight turned elsewhere for once. Something I'm sure her friends Dacre and Murdoch will be only too happy to facilitate with their charity bashing hats on