Oxfam has admitted it ‘got it wrong’ and should have made its Haiti sex scandal public as the Government reviews the charity’s multi-million pound funding.
It comes as staff involved in the investigation were given references by former employees and went on to work for other aid agencies who were unaware of their conduct.
Oxfam had allowed three men to resign and sacked four others for gross misconduct after they were found to have hosted “Caligula” style sex parties involving Haitian prostitutes in the aftermath of 2010 earthquake.
An internal report into the incident uncovered by The Times, which was circulated in 2011, was unable to rule out that under-age women had been solicited.
Last night Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “With hindsight, I would much prefer that we had talked about sexual misconduct.
“But I don’t think it was in anyone’s best interest to be describing the details of the behaviour in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it when what we wanted to do was get on and deliver an aid programme.”
At the time, the charity only referred to the behaviour as “serious misconduct” but Mr Goldring denies there has been a “cover-up”.
The Charity Commission says Oxfam’s report stated there had been no allegations of abuse of beneficiaries and did not mention potential sexual crimes involving minors.
“Our approach to this matter would have been different had the full details that have been reported been disclosed to us at the time,” the Charity Commission said in a statement.
It has written to Oxfam “as a matter of urgency” to request further information to “establish greater clarity” on the matter.
Oxfam said allegations that under age girls may have been involved were not proven.
The review comes amid fresh reports in The Times that Oxfam did not tell other aid agencies about the behaviour of staff involved in the investigation after they left to work elsewhere.
Mr Goldring says any references given to staff involved in the scandal, who later found other jobs, had not been officially sanctioned.
Oxfam added in a statement: “With up to 10,000 NGOs working in Haiti alone in 2011, not to mention hundreds of thousands of aid workers in countries around the world, it was unfortunately not possible for Oxfam to ensure that those found guilty of sexual misconduct were not re-employed in the sector.
“Oxfam has not and would not provide a positive reference for any of those that were dismissed or resigned as a result of the case.”
DfID says Oxfam has “serious questions” to answer following the revelations.
“The way this appalling abuse of vulnerable people was dealt with raises serious questions that Oxfam must answer,” a DfID spokesman said.
“We acknowledge that hundreds of Oxfam staff have done no wrong and work tirelessly for the people they serve, but the handling by the senior team about this investigation and their openness with us and the Charity Commission showed a lack of judgment.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for the type of activity that took place in this instance, and we expect our partners to as well.”
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/10/oxfam-has-admitted-got-wrong-should-have-made-haiti-sex-scandal/