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Sexual misconduct cases at aid department revealed by review

A top official at the Department for International Development urged staff with concerns to call the whistle blowing hotline.

Some 14 cases of proven sexual misconduct in the government’s aid department have been dealt with since 1995, an internal review has found.

Officials are also dealing with a number of current cases but refuse to say how many, claiming it could lead to the identification of the people involved.

Most of the closed cases relate to sexual harassment between staff and none  include proven allegations of  workers paying for sex, the Department for International Development said.

The review found no information to suggest DfID staff had abused children or exploited people in exchange for aid.

It found there were fewer than five closed substantiated cases in 2017.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “I think it was vital that we went back through every record we have, since they began, to check action has been taken.

“And if any new information comes to light through our continued efforts we will ensure appropriate action is taken on this.”

DfID said action was taken in each of the 14 cases, which involve staff in the UK and abroad, that was in line with its policies at the time and insisted it does not hold any information that should have passed on to the prosecuting authorities.

The findings of the review, which stretch back to the time when aid was dealt with by a unit in the Foreign Office, were announced to a London summit on safeguarding by the department’s permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft.

He said: “We are determined to hold ourselves to the high standards we expect of the sector. As part of that determination, we have conducted an internal review into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations involving DfID staff.”

“Since a number of these cases occurred, some of DfID’s procedures have been tightened up and strengthened,” he added.

“I continue to encourage all staff to report any concerns historic or present to our confidential whistle blowing hotline.

“If any new information comes to light through our continued efforts we will ensure appropriate action is taken.

“We can go further. I want us to seize this moment to ensure a shift in culture across our whole sector. That is the way to ensure we bring some lasting good out of this crisis. “

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