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Labour calls for an investigation into sexual abuse in aid sector amid Oxfam allegations

LABOUR called for a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct by overseas charity workers today as a senior Oxfam executive resigned over the scandal.

Oxfam officials met International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt today following claims the charity covered up accusations that its aid workers had invited prostituted women and girls to a party at their villa in Haiti in 2011.

The charity — which received £31.7 million of government funding last year — was in the country responding to a massive earthquake which hit capital Port-au-Prince in 2010, killing 220,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless.

An internal investigation launched into the allegations led to four people being sacked for gross misconduct and three others resigning, including Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director for Haiti, who went on to work for French charity Action for Children.

But the details of the investigation report did not come to light until last week, when The Times published details of what it termed a “cover-up.”

And the charity faced more allegations today, with the Times claiming that Oxfam was aware of concerns about the conduct of two of the men at the centre of the allegations in Haiti when they worked in Chad.

Penny Lawrence resigned as Oxfam deputy chief executive today, admitting that the charity had “failed to adequately act upon” concerns about the behaviour of staff before they moved to Haiti.

She said: “As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch and I take full responsibility.”

Shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor called for a “wide-ranging inquiry into the prevalence, causes of, and safeguards against sexual abuse in the aid sector,” describing the emerging details of the scandal as “stomach-turning.”

She said: “For public trust to return to these vital aid agencies, the full truth must now come out, including why the Charity Commission did not request further information or flag it to the Department for International Development when the scandal was first reported by Oxfam.

“The government should now work with the sector and the United Nations to quickly set up a global register that stops humanitarian workers involved in sexual abuse moving between agencies and countries.”

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