Oxfam has sought to reassure its supporters after allegations that it covered up the use of prostitutes by senior aid workers in Haiti.
An investigation by the Times newspaper found the charity had sacked four people for gross misconduct and allowed three to resign after an inquiry looking into behaviour in Haiti, where Oxfam helped the international relief effort after the earthquake in 2010.
According to the investigation, the case related to allegations that charity workers had invited groups of young prostitutes to their guesthouse where they held sex “parties”, with one described as a “full-on Caligula orgy” and allegations that the girls were wearing Oxfam t-shirts.
Following the publication of The Times’ investigation, Oxfam released a statement condemning the behaviour as: “totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high standards we expect of our staff”.
It said as soon as the charity became aware of the allegations, it immediately launched an internal investigation with the “primary aim” of rooting out and taking action against those involved.
The statement said: “Four members of staff were dismissed as a result of the investigation and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of the investigation.
“The misconduct findings related to offences including bullying, harassment, intimidation and failure to protect staff as well as sexual misconduct. Allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven.”
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The charity said its trustees, the Charity Commission and DFID, as well as other major donors including the EU, WHO and UN agencies, were kept informed of the investigation and its outcome.
“The Charity Commission confirmed that Oxfam had taken appropriate action and that it therefore had “no regulatory concerns”,” it said.
“After the investigation, we carried out a thorough review of the case which resulted in the creation of our dedicated Safeguarding Team and a confidential ‘whistleblowing’ hotline as part of a package of measures to ensure that we do all we can to protect our staff, prevent sexual abuse and misconduct happening in the first place and improve how we handle any allegations.
“We know that, like us, our supporters will be distressed by what happened. We hope that they will be reassured by the steps we have taken.”