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Penny Mordaunt to meet UK crime agency boss to discuss Oxfam scandal

UK News | Published:

The International Development Secretary will meet National Crime Agency director-general Lynne Owens on Thursday.

Oxfam has been accused of concealing the findings of an inquiry into claims staff used prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011. (Nick Ansell/PA)

The Cabinet minister for overseas aid will meet the boss of the National Crime Agency (NCA) on Thursday to discuss the Oxfam aid worker sex scandal.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and NCA director-general Lynne Owens will hold private talks on how they can work together to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse as the crisis continued to engulf the charity.

Oxfam has been accused of concealing the findings of an inquiry into claims staff used prostitutes while delivering aid in earthquake-hit Haiti in 2011.

And on Wednesday a worker accused of sexual misconduct while working for Oxfam in Haiti that year was sacked from a role at aid charity Cafod.

File photo dated 30/11/17 of Penny Mordaunt. (Nick Ansell/PA)
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt (Nick Ansell/PA)

Cafod said it had been unaware of the accusations until it was contacted recently by the Times newspaper.

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

But the charity stressed the dismissal of Damien Berrendorf, who served as the Oxfam’s country director in Haiti from 2012 to 2017, was “not related to sexual misconduct” and was “not connected to the case in 2011”.

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The NCA has been “closely monitoring” allegations of overseas abuse and has said it has a range of powers to investigate certain sexual offences committed outside the UK.

On Thursday, the Charity Commission is also expected to set out the terms of its statutory inquiry into Oxfam following an all-day meeting with the charity at its offices in Oxford on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Senagalese singer Baaba Maal became the latest Oxfam ambassador to quit their role, joining Hollywood star Minnie Driver.

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He told BBC Newsnight: “What has happened on a human level is disgusting and heart breaking.

“It is very sad. Vulnerable people especially children should always be protected.

“As such I am disassociating myself from Oxfam immediately.”

But the charity received support from Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis.

Speaking at the NME Awards, 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?”

How Oxfam GB is funded. (PA Graphics)
How Oxfam GB is funded (PA Graphics)

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.”

Ms Mordaunt has accused the charity of failing to show moral leadership by not properly informing donors about the actions of its workers and has made clear its public funding could be at risk.

Oxfam received £31.7 million from the UK Government in 2016/17.

The scandal has already led to the resignation of Oxfam deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence.

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