Charity body orders Oxfam inquiry

"The issues revealed in recent days are shocking and unacceptable"

London: Britain's Charity Commission has ordered a formal investigation into the activities of Oxfam after examining documents concerning sexual abuse provided by the charity.

Depending on its outcome, the government will decide whether to stop or cut back on money given to Oxfam which in 2016-17 amounted to £31.7 million.

The commission's deputy chief executive David Holdsworth said: "Charities and dedicated, hard-working aid workers undertake vital, lifesaving work in some of the most difficult circumstances across the world. However, the issues revealed in recent days are shocking and unacceptable.

"It is important that we take this urgent step to ensure that these matters can be dealt with fully and robustly."

Some Right-wing politicians, who have long argued that Britain should trim back its aid budget and instead spend the money on good causes at home, feel the Oxfam revelations have given them valuable ammunition.

The crisis is a serious one because the British are among the most generous donors when disasters occur. And successive British governments, Tory and Labour, are agreed that 0.7 per cent of the nation's GDP should be spent on helping the poorest people in the world.

India, which once received the largest share of the aid budget - this is no longer the case - outraged the far Right, especially when the country appeared to promote its achievements in nuclear science and in space.

The international development secretary Penny Mordaunt said she would wait for the Charity Commission's report before making a decision on Oxfam's funding.

Mordaunt said: "I know people will be worried about the charity, they'll be worried about the money, but we need to be guided by what the Charity Commission are doing ... these decisions shouldn't be taken hastily, but I am considering them."

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that reports of sexual abuse of vulnerable people in Haiti were "disgraceful and disgusting" but he added: "It's not a reason to cut the budget, it's a reason to manage it carefully."

The former foreign secretary, William Hague, also argued, writing in The Daily Telegraph, that there was an "overwhelming strategic, as well as moral, imperative to deliver aid to the world's poorest people", but that the sector needs to show it is setting and meeting the highest standards. "The case for the type of work done by Oxfam is too strong to allow it to be undermined by bad behaviour," he said.


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