Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt today revealed she was calling in the National Crime Agency to review the Oxfam prostitute scandal.
The Cabinet minister told aid agencies gathered in Stockholm any criminals identified should be ‘prosecuted accordingly’ as claims against the charity continue to mount.
The National Crime Agency said it was ‘closely monitoring’ the scandal and said it had specific powers to deal with some offences committed overseas.
Meanwhile the Charity Commission launched its own probe into the scandal as it held the first meetings of a statutory inquiry.
Ms Mordaunt delivered a hard hitting message to an aid summit in the Swedish capital this morning.
She said: ‘While investigations have to be completed and any potential criminals prosecuted accordingly, what is clear is that the culture that allowed this to happen needs to change and it needs to change now.’
Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt (pictured today in Stockholm) has warned charities to do more to improve safeguarding or face having their funding axed in the wake of the Oxfam scandal
Ms Mordaunt stepped up her criticism of Oxfam today as she described her ‘disgust’ in the ‘horrifying allegations’ of the past week.
She said aid agencies will lose their taxpayer-funded donations unless they properly protect whistleblowers and vulnerable victims.
Her tough speech comes after the charity sector has been rocked by revelations Oxfam staff paid locals for sex in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Actress Minnie Driver has pulled her support for the charity and over 12,000 donors have cancelled their donations in the wake of the scandal.
Ms Mordaunt said the shocking revelations are a ‘wake up call’ for charities to get their houses on order if they still want a slice of Britain’s multi-billion pound aid budget.
Speaking in Stockholm today, she said: ‘Unless you safeguard everyone your organisation comes into contact with, including beneficiaries, staff and volunteers – we will not fund you.
‘Unless you create a culture that prioritises the safety of vulnerable people and ensures victims and whistleblowers can come forward without fear – we will not work with you.
‘And unless you report every serious incident or allegation, no matter how damaging to your reputation – we cannot be partners.
‘The same message goes out to any organisation or partner which receives UK aid. We want procedures to change. We want leaders to lead with moral authority. And we want staff to be held accountable for their actions, no matter where they are.
‘Sexual abuse and exploitation is an issue the entire development sector needs to confront.’
Actress Minnie Driver (pictured at an Oxfam party in November)has pulled her support for the charity and over 12,000 donors have cancelled their donations in the wake of the scandal.
She said the ‘horrifying allegations’ of the past week shows the need for all charities to take a long hard look at how they protect the people they are entrusted to work with.
Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring (pictured at the Department for International Development on Monday) continued to face questions over his handling of the scandal today
She said: I know that everyone here today, and decent people across the international development sector, share my disgust at these appalling violations.
‘And share my determination to lead a full, comprehensive and systematic response to them.
‘The sexual exploitation of vulnerable people, vulnerable children, is never acceptable.
‘But when it is perpetrated by people in positions of power, people we entrust to help and protect, it rightly sickens and disgusts. And compels us to take action.’
She pledged another £5 million of Government funding to help protect vulnerable children across the globe at the global aid summit.
Representatives from international aid agencies and ministers from more than 20 countries were present at the Agenda 2030 for Children: End Violence Solutions Summit.
Ms Mordaunt added: ‘Today, I’m calling on all of us to work together. It is only through working together that we can achieve our shared goal of ending violence against children.
‘Everyone in this room has a duty to ensure change within their own organisations. We must ensure we all have the highest safeguarding standards.’
The NCA said it was ‘closely monitoring’ allegations of overseas abuse ahead of a meeting between its director general Lynne Owens and Ms Mordaunt.
Former Oxfam employees in Chad claimed staff held sex parties with prostitutes. Pictured: Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, who admitted to having sex with vulnerable prostitutes at his Oxfam villa
An NCA spokesman said: ‘The National Crime Agency have closely monitored the events occurring in respect of allegations of abuse overseas. There are a range of powers available to the NCA which enable us to investigate certain sexual offences committed outside the UK.
‘We look forward to discussion with colleagues in DFID and the Home Office and will consider how the NCA can assist with international safeguarding considerations in light of our global reach and will present our professional view on what more could or should be done.
‘Through our extensive international liaison network and CEOP command, the NCA supports local law enforcement abroad. For example the NCA receives some central Government grant money to help improve the ability of the British Overseas Territories to protect children from sexual exploitation.
‘The CEOP Command and the ACPO Criminal Records Office have developed the International Child Protection Certificate, a voluntary scheme, designed to help protect children from UK nationals who seek to work overseas in order to abuse children. In 2016/17 there were more than 11,000 applications, with ACRO issuing more than 10,800 certificates.
‘We also have a memorandum of understanding with the Charity Commission and are meeting with them this week to assure ourselves that appropriate action has been taken with all the safeguarding material in their possession.’
Announcing an inquiry on Tuesday, David Holdsworth, Deputy Chief Executive of the Charity Commission 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.’