A handout picture released on Feb 12, 2018 by British charity Oxfam shows Penny Lawrence the deputy chief executive of Oxfam. CHARLOTTE BALL / OXFAM / AFP)
LONDON - The deputy head of Oxfam resigned on Monday
over what she said was the British charity's failure to adequately respond to
past allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Haiti and Chad.
One of the best-known international NGOs, with aid programmes running
across the globe, Oxfam was under threat of losing its British government funding
over sexual misconduct allegations first reported by the Times newspaper last
One of the best-known international NGOs, with aid programs running across the globe, Oxfam was under threat of losing its British govt funding
The scandal was fast escalating into a broader crisis for Britain's aid
sector by bolstering critics in the ruling Conservative Party who have argued
that the government should reduce spending on aid in favour of domestic
Aid minister Penny Mordaunt, who threatened on Sunday to withdraw
government funding from Oxfam unless it gave the full facts about events in
Haiti, summoned senior managers from the charity to a meeting on Monday.
"Oxfam made a full and unqualified apology – to me, and to the people
of Britain and Haiti - for the appalling behaviour of some of their staff in
Haiti in 2011, and for the wider failings of their organisation's response to
it," Mordaunt said after meeting Oxfam's chief executive, Mark Goldring.
"I told Oxfam they must now demonstrate the moral leadership necessary
to address this scandal, rebuild the trust of the British public, their staff and
the people they aim to help, and deliver progress on these assurances," she added
in a statement.
The statement did not address the question of funding. There was no
immediate comment from Oxfam.
The Charity Commission said it had launched a statutory inquiry. The
regulator said it had concerns Oxfam "may not have fully and frankly disclosed
material details about the allegations at the time in 2011, its handling of the
incidents since, and the impact that these have both had on public trust and
The Times newspaper reported on Friday that some staff who were in
Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there had paid for sex with prostitutes. Oxfam
has neither confirmed nor denied that specific allegation but has said an
internal investigation in 2011 had confirmed sexual misconduct had occurred.
Reuters could not independently verify the allegation.
Announcing her resignation on Monday, Deputy Chief Executive Penny
Lawrence said Oxfam had become aware over the past few days that concerns were
raised about the behaviour of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that the
organisation failed to adequately act upon.
The logo on the front of an Oxfam bookshop is photographed in Glasgow on Feb 10, 2018. The British Government announced late on February 9 it was reviewing all work with Oxfam amid revelations the charity's staff hired prostitutes in Haiti during a 2011 relief effort on the earthquake-hit island. (ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)
Oxfam has said that as a result of its internal investigation in 2011,
four people were dismissed, and three others - including the Haiti country
director who had previously held the same role in Chad - had resigned.
Reuters was unable to reach any of the Oxfam staff who worked in Haiti at the time.
In its last financial year Oxfam received £32 million (US$44 million) from Britain's aid ministry, about 8 percent ofits overall income. Whether or not it loses that funding, private donations could be hit by the bad publicity.
Founded in 1942, Oxfam is one of Britain's best-known charities. Its
650 shops selling second hand clothes and booksto raise funds are a familiar
sight on the high street.