Catholic aid agency responds to Oxfam scandal

Chris Bain (Cafod Nottingham)

The head of a British Catholic aid agency has said the charity takes a “zero-tolerance approach” to misconduct following revelations of the scandal engulfing Oxfam. Source: The Tablet.

The director of Cafod (Catholic Agency For Overseas Development), Chris Bain, issued a statement on Monday after The Times newspaper revealed that Oxfam, another British development agency, had concealed the findings of a report into the misconduct of several of its staff in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Seven employees, including country director Roland Van Hauwermeiren, left the charity after an investigation into using prostitutes, downloading “pornographic and illegal material”, and engaging in bullying and intimidation, The Times reported.

Among those dismissed was a Kenyan aid worker who went on to work for Cafod. He was accused by a whistleblower of organising sex parties with prostitutes, as well as “bullying, harassing and exposing himself” to female co-workers.

Cafod said it was unaware of the employee’s previous alleged misconduct and have suspended him while they examine the claims made by the newspaper.

Mr Bain said: “Cafod has a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct breaching our Code of Behaviour, including fraud, abuse, intimidation and other acts. We have robust safeguarding and whistle-blowing policies and practices in place to ensure that vulnerable people are protected.”

He said that by receiving two references they had followed “standard practice” in the recruitment process for the ex-Oxfam aid worker.

Cafod’s code of behaviour states that anyone working directly for Cafod or on a consultancy basis must comply with the code, which prohibits “sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”, as well as the exchange of “money, employment, goods or services for sex”.

“It is disheartening that the actions of a few unscrupulous aid workers may undermine trust in the life-saving work done by overseas development and humanitarian agencies, including Cafod, working alongside some of the poorest communities and helping them live life to the fullest,” Mr Bain said.

On Monday, Oxfam announced that its Deputy Chief Executive, Penny Lawrence, had resigned over the handling of the sex scandal involving aid workers, although the charity denies there was a cover-up.


Head of Cafod responds to 'disturbing' Oxfam allegations (The Tablet)

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