Minister warns Oxfam public funding is at risk
Corporate donors are monitoring organisation’s response to the allegations
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.
Hollywood actress Minnie Driver has resigned as an Oxfam ambassador in the wake of the scandal.