Several media have reported on the Charity Commission’s statutory inquiry into Oxfam GB, which was published yesterday afternoon.
It follows allegations of sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011, which were widely reported on in early 2018.
Separately, Oxfam International’s Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture, which was set up last year, published its report today.
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said in response to the Charity Commission report: “The revelations of last year were horrifying and shone a light on fundamental problems. DFID agrees that we must always put people first.
“DFID has driven reform and our priority remains delivering for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, while keeping people safe from harm.
“Oxfam is an important British institution that saves lives in some of the world’s toughest places. This is a long-term process, in which there are no easy answers or room for complacency.
“We will be working closely with both Oxfam and the Charity Commission in the coming weeks.”
These comments were covered online in The Independent, Mail Online, The Financial Times and BBC. The Press Association also carried his words.
The government also released a statement.
It read: “Last year it came to light that organisations in the aid sector had failed to do enough to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment. These revelations rightly shook public trust.
“DFID has been at the forefront of driving up standards across the aid sector and our priority remains delivering for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. We have been clear that change must happen and the entire sector must work together to deliver it.
“Progress has been made, but no one can be complacent. Protecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable requires consistent leadership and culture change, and we will continue to drive this.
“We welcome the publication of the Charity Commission’s statutory inquiry into Oxfam. DFID agrees that we must all always put people first. These are very serious findings, rightly resulting in significant regulatory action by the Charity Commission. We also thank the courageous whistleblowers who voiced their concerns.
“We also await the publication of Oxfam’s Independent Commission’s report and we will carefully review the reports and their recommendations. The International Development Secretary will shortly meet Oxfam’s Chair of Trustees to discuss Oxfam’s actions.
“Oxfam plays a crucial role in saving lives and reducing poverty in some of the world’s toughest places, and they are an important British institution. In February 2018, Oxfam agreed to withdraw from bidding for any new UK Government funding until DFID is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect of all our partners.
“We made our expectations clear at the time and will be working closely with both Oxfam and the Charity Commission in the coming weeks. Decisions on Oxfam’s funding relationship with the UK Government will be made in due course.”
The government has also responded to the separate Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change in Oxfam International.
A spokesperson said: “We welcome the publication of the report from Oxfam’s International’s Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture.
“This report contains serious findings and important recommendations, shaped by victim and survivors’ voices, and makes for uncomfortable reading for the whole aid sector. Aid must be delivered in a way which does no harm. Along with the Charity Commission inquiry, it will be an important step in Oxfam’s work to transform its culture and strengthen its safeguarding practices.
“We will now carefully review both the reports and their recommendations, and the International Development Secretary will shortly meet Oxfam’s Chair of Trustees to discuss next steps. Decisions on Oxfam’s funding relationship with the UK Government will be made in due course.
“The UK Government remains committed to driving up standards across the aid sector. Change must happen and the entire sector must work together to deliver it – safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.”