Min­is­ter warns Ox­fam pub­lic fund­ing is at risk

Cor­po­rate donors are mon­i­tor­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion’s re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tions

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - david hughes

Ox­fam’s han­dling of sex al­le­ga­tions has been con­demned by the Gov­ern­ment – with a threat that mil­lions in tax­payer fund­ing could be cut off.

In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Penny Mor­daunt said Ox­fam had failed to show “moral lead­er­ship” and had failed to prop­erly in­form donors, reg­u­la­tors and prose­cu­tors about the ac­tions of its work­ers.

Ox­fam said it sacked its coun­try di­rec­tor in Haiti, Damien Ber­ren­dorf, last year fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of “mis­man­age­ment” and “in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour”

Catholic char­ity CAFOD also sacked a for­mer Ox­fam em­ployee yes­ter­day as the scan­dal deep­ened.

Hollywood star Min­nie Driver be­came the first celebrity to quit as an Ox­fam am­bas­sador fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions se­nior staff work­ing in cri­sis zones paid for sex with vul­ner­a­ble lo­cals and the char­ity also faces a chal­lenge to hang on to ma­jor cor­po­rate part­ners.

In a speech to an aid con­fer­ence in Stockholm, Ms Mor­daunt said: “The re­cent rev­e­la­tions about Ox­fam – not solely the ac­tions per­pe­trated by a num­ber of those staff, but the way the or­gan­i­sa­tions re­sponded to those events, should be a wake-up call to the sec­tor.

“They let per­pe­tra­tors go. They did not in­form donors, their reg­u­la­tor or pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­i­ties.

“It was not just the pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures of that or­gan­i­sa­tion that were lack­ing but moral lead­er­ship.”

Ox­fam re­ceived £31.7 mil­lion in tax­payer fund­ing in 2016-17, but Ms Mor­daunt in­di­cated future sup­port could be at risk.

“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,” she said.

She said she would be meet­ing the Na­tional Crime Agency to­day after talks with char­ity bosses, reg­u­la­tors and ex­perts in re­cent days.

“While in­ves­ti­ga­tions have to be com­pleted and any po­ten­tial crim­i­nals pros­e­cuted ac­cord­ingly, what is clear is that the cul­ture that al­lowed this to hap­pen needs to change and it needs to change now,” she said.

Ox­fam of­fi­cials met the Char­ity Com­mis­sion yes­ter­day after the reg­u­la­tor launched a statu­tory in­quiry.

Marks & Spencer, which has run a part­ner­ship with Ox­fam since 2008 in­volv­ing do­nated clothes worth an es­ti­mated £19 mil­lion, said the chain is mon­i­tor­ing how the char­ity is deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion.

A spokes­woman said: “These are very se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions. M&S con­tin­ues to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion very closely as we seek to un­der­stand the steps that Ox­fam is tak­ing to ad­dress them and de­velop a ro­bust safe­guard­ing plan for the future.”

Other part­ners in­clud­ing Visa and Heathrow Air­port also said they were ex­am­in­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

Pic­ture: PA.

Hollywood ac­tress Min­nie Driver has re­signed as an Ox­fam am­bas­sador in the wake of the scan­dal.

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