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  1. ITV Report

Oxfam scandal: What happened when?

The charity has been hit by scandal over accusations it covered up an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations. Credit: PA

Oxfam has been accused of covering up an investigation into the sexual misconduct of some of its aid workers in Haiti and Chad.

The charity said that the government and the Charity Commission were kept informed of their internal investigation into allegations in 2006 and 2011.

Authorities say the aid provider failed to inform them in full, including information that staff members paid prostitutes for sex and that some of those involved could have been underage, a claim that Oxfam says is not proven.

Oxfam provided tons of aid to Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010. Credit: PA

Here is a timeline of how the scandal unfolded:

  • 2006: Oxfam workers in Chad allegedly hired prostitutes in Chad for sex at homes funded by the charity.
  • 2010: Senior aid workers, including the then-country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, paid for sex in Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake while the charity was delivering aid. Sex is believed to have taken place in a villa paid for by the charity.
  • 2011: An internal investigation was launched leading to the dismissal of four workers and three others, including van Hauwermeiren, resigned.
Former Oxfam director Roland van Hauwermeiren.
  • August 2011: The charity published a statement saying that it launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct against a "small number" of its staff in Haiti. The Charity Commission were informed of an internal investigation related to inappropriate sexual behavior, bullying, harassment and the intimidation of staff.
  • October 2011: The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) is informed by Oxfam that an investigation had been launched over "sexual misconduct" but it allegedly did not reveal that the allegations could have related to underage girls or prostitutes.
  • February 9, 2018: An investigation published by The Times alleged that Oxfam covered up the misconduct. Quoting a confidential report, the newspaper reported that "children may have been among those sexually exploited by aid workers", and that there had been a "culture of impunity" among some staff in Haiti. Oxfam denied a cover-up and said accusations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven.
  • February 10, 2018: DFID said the charity did not inform them in full of the nature of the investigation. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt criticised the "horrific" behaviour and warned that government funding could be withdrawn if it does not comply fully with authorities. She also warned that if charities did not put in place safeguarding policies, funding will be stopped.
Penny Mordaunt warned Oxfam that funding could be withdrawn. Credit: PA

The report to us stated there had been no allegations, or evidence, of any abuse of beneficiaries.

It also made no mention of any 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.

– Charity Commission
  • February 11, 2018: Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring denied that the charity "deliberately lied" about the nature of the investigation but added: "I fully recognise that by telling half a story it feels that way. And with hindsight we should have told the whole story."
  • February 12, 2018: Crisis talks held with Oxfam officials, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Michelle Russell, director of investigations at the Charity Commission. Meanwhile, The Times reported that Oxfam had concerns over the conduct of van Hauwermeiren and one other staff member but still gave them senior humanitarian roles in Haiti.
  • February 12, 2018: Former head of global safeguarding at Oxfam, Helen Evans, said she encountered allegations of rape, harassment and sex in exchange for aid handouts when she was working for the charity.
  • February 12, 2018: Oxfam's deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned over claims its employees sexually exploited victims of the 2010 Haitian earthquake and hired prostitutes for sex at homes funded by the charity in Chad in 2006.