Oxfam hit by new misconduct claims


LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Oxfam's chief executive apologised on Tuesday for saying a wave of condemnation over sex abuse by the charity's staff was disproportionate as it had not "murdered babies in their cots" in a scandal that has prompted new reports of abuse. During an interview with The Guardian, Goldring had said: "The intensity and ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots?"

A woman who worked alongside van Hauwermeiren in Liberia said she made a complaint about him in 2004 - years before the Haiti scandal. The case, which relates to the sacking of an Oxfam country director in Nigeria by a senior manager she had accused of sexually assaulting her, will be part of the Charity Commission's inquiry into Oxfam announced last week after it emerged it had covered up allegations of sexual misconduct by senior staff in Haiti following the 2010 natural disaster.

Oxfam, which has nearly 10,000 staff working in more than 90 countries, denied a cover-up but its handling of the scandal is being investigated by the Charity Commission.

"We really want people to come forward wherever they are and whenever this happened".

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, who like Goldring took her current role after the abuse in Haiti occurred, said "hideous men" had abused the trust of the public and were not aligned with the charity's principles.

He denied there had been a cover-up, saying Oxfam had been trying to deliver a huge programme with 500 staff and his predecessors would have believed they were making the right decision at the time. Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's global executive director, said: "I have spent my life trying to stand up for women's rights and to fight for people living in poverty".

"At the time, people thought that was being transparent".

Despite the charities regrets, following the outbreak of the scandal an estimated 7,000 people have ended regular donations to the charity.

"We will not work with anybody who does not meet the high standards that we set", May added during a visit to a London school. With hindsight, they made the wrong call. It is not for Oxfam to judge issues of proportionality or motivation. This is painful for me.

Penny Mordaunt, the Cabinet minister who leads Britain's Department for International Development, met last week with Oxfam leaders and threatened to cut off the tens of millions of dollars the group receives annually from the government.

The threats and intimidation were among several accusations of misconduct made public for the first time with Oxfam's release of its 2011 report into the conduct of its Haiti staff, including the hiring of prostitutes.

During the committee hearing, it emerged that one of them was re-employed for Oxfam on a short-term contract in another country.

Oxfam has been hit by a further 26 allegations of misconduct involving its staff since the scandal broke two weeks ago about aid workers who sexually exploited victims of the 2010 quake in Haiti.

It is not known if he was one of the suspects accused of threatening witnesses. Four were fired for gross misconduct and three others, including then country director Roland Van Hauwermeiren were allowed to resign. As he got into a vehicle, he was asked why he had been let go by Oxfam but not did not answer.

Oxfam officially released the findings of its investigation after a leaked copy was published by The Times, heralding a storm of criticism over how the episode was handled.