UK warns charities over sex misconduct as Oxfam scandal widens

But foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said she was concerned that the scandal could lead to fewer donations to charities which would ultimately affect those in "acute distress".

Oxfam said it had not found evidence to back one of the Times' most explosive claims: that underage girls were involved.

In a sign of widening fallout, the Sunday Times reported more than 120 workers for Britain's leading charities were accused of sexual abuse in the past year.

Former Oxfam employees in Chad claimed staff held sex parties with prostitutes.

The charity is under growing pressure after an investigation by The Times found young sex workers were hired by senior staff in Haiti after the 2010 natural disaster which devastated the island and left up to 300,000 people dead.

Former worldwide development secretary Priti Patel said she was aware of the issue of sexual misconduct and abuse in the aid sector, in general, adding there was "a culture of denial".

There had been other incidents since 2011, he said, but "nothing on the scale of this severity". "It is not sufficient to be appalled by the behavior of our former staff - we must and will learn from it and use it as a spur to improvement".

When it happened, she said, new whistle-blowing procedures, safeguarding practises and training were put in place.

"I am deeply ashamed about Oxfam's behaviour then", CEO Mark Goldring told ITV News.

He added: "Everybody - the 25,000 staff and volunteers - are compromised by this, the hundreds of thousands of people who support Oxfam every month are compromised by this, and to everybody I apologise".

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The charity made a decision to allow Mr Van Hauwermeiren to step down from his position and crucially didn't share details of the termination of contract with his new employer.

She told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: I am affording them the opportunity to tell me in person what they did after these events and I'm going to be looking to see if they are displaying the moral leadership that I think they need to now.

The apology comes as the Department of global development, which a year ago gave Oxfam more than £30 million, said it will review whether or not to continue to fund the charity.

She said she would meet the charity on Monday to discuss the case, adding: "If the moral leadership at the top of the organisation is not there then we cannot have you as a partner".

Marr said: "That was a lie, wasn't it?"

Responding to a report in The Times newspaper, Oxfam admitted that the behaviour of some of its staff had been "totally unacceptable".

Ms Mordaunt replied: "Well, quite".

"What is so disturbing about Oxfam is that when this was reported to them, they completely failed to do the right thing", she said.

Ms Mordaunt said she would write to British charities working overseas demanding they declare any problems relating to the duty they have to protect their staff and the people they work with from harm and abuse - so-called "safeguarding".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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