Mordaunt holds ‘productive’ meeting with National Crime Agency amid Oxfam sex scandal
Penny Mordaunt has previously threatened to remove Oxfam’s funding.
The International Development Secretary met with top law enforcement officials on Thursday to discuss
how vulnerable people receiving charity aid can be protected from sex abuse.
The talks came in the wake of the Oxfam sex scandal, with the charity accused of concealing findings of an inquiry into claims staff used prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011.
Penny Mordaunt met with Lynne Owens, Director General of the National Crime Agency, and Home Office officials.
They discussed how to “protect vulnerable people” and how to guarantee “appropriate safeguarding provisions” are in place for charities involved in overseas aid, according to the National Crime Agency.
The agency said the meeting was “productive”.
Later on Thursday, the Charity Commission set out the scope of its statutory inquiry, which will probe the charity’s case records, its handling of the Haiti allegations and the extent of knowledge of similar allegations against staff in areas such as Chad and Liberia predating Haiti.
The inquiry will also look at the charity’s communications with police and other agencies.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said: “Acting in the public interest as regulator, this inquiry must and will establish the facts about what the charity knew about events in Haiti in 2011, and how it responded at the time and since.”
It came a day after Ms Mordaunt threatened to remove Oxfam’s funding, accusing the charity of failing to show moral leadership by not properly informing donors about the actions of its workers.
She said: “No organisation is too big, or our work with them too complex, for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first.”
On Wednesday evening, Oxfam also revealed that Damien Berrendorf, who served as the charity’s country director in Haiti from 2012 to 2017, was dismissed last year following allegations of “mismanagement” and “inappropriate behaviour”.
The dismissal was “not related to sexual misconduct”, the charity said.
"I know that this apology is by no means enough but I want to offer it unreservedly to our supporters, volunteers, staff and the people of Haiti and Chad for the things that happened in our name. I am so sorry." Read Mark Goldring's full open letter at https://t.co/otmNiqs7ar— Oxfam (@oxfamgb) February 15, 2018
Meanwhile, Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis said he would continue to support the charity.
Speaking at the NME Awards on Wednesday evening, he told the Press Association: “We’ve raised millions through the years with Oxfam – six million quid and everyone’s said what a wonderful charity they are and we still support them.
“And for a few dodgy people – like with the NHS you get a few dodgy doctors and it doesn’t discredit the NHS does it? So why should it affect Oxfam?”
Former ambassador Livia Firth, the wife of actor Colin, urged Oxfam to address the abuse but continue its relief work.
She said: “It is appalling to hear the news of the men that have abused the people they were there to help. It’s a betrayal of all who put their faith in them: those who most needed their help.
“I still believe that such programmes are necessary. It would be a tragedy to see this relief work and advocacy stopped. For its part Oxfam must address this abuse diligently and transparently.
“Oxfam must do everything in its power to heal the damage to those who depend on both its work and the good faith and generosity of its supporters.”