British Government inquiry into Oxfam scandal gets underway

Oxfam workers have been accused of trading aid for sex

British Government inquiry into Oxfam scandal gets underway

An Oxfam store in London, 21-05-2013. Image: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/PA Images

An inquiry into the sex allegations surrounding senior international Oxfam aid workers has gotten underway today.

It comes after the aid agency's deputy chief executive resigned her position, saying she takes "full responsibility" for the behaviour of staff in Haiti in 2011.

Some of the charity’s aid workers have been accused of hiring prostitutes in the country following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

An inquiry by the British Charity Commission is due to get underway today, while Oxfam’s British Government funding remains in doubt.

Yesterday, the charity’s deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence said she took full responsibility for what had happened on her watch and was sorry for the "harm and distress" it had caused supporters.

She said she was "ashamed" of what happened and resigned her position.

Hours later, the scandal appeared to deepen as the aid agency’s former head of safeguarding Helen Evans said she was told of three examples of sexual misconduct in the space of 24 hours during her time in the post.

She was told about two women being coerced to have sex and a worker who had failed to say he had previously been struck off for sex abuse.

She accused her bosses of ignoring her evidence and her pleas for more resources, adding that she had been forced to quit as a result.

Ms Evans told Channel 4 News: "There was... a woman being coerced to have sex in a humanitarian response by another aid worker, another case where a woman had been coerced in exchange for aid and another one where it had come to our attention where a member of staff had been struck off for sexual abuse and hadn't disclosed that, and we were then concerned about what he might be doing, and that was three allegations in one day."

The charity now faces a battle to "rebuild the public trust" following crisis talks with the Government over future funding, its chief executive Mark Goldring has said.

It has been given until the end of the week to detail how it will handle any further allegations.

Oxfam receives £32m (€36m) in public funding from the British Government.