The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into Oxfam amid concerns it might not have “fully and frankly disclosed” all details of allegations its workers visited prostitutes in Haiti in 2011.
Announcing the Charity Commission’s decision to open an inquiry into Oxfam, the regulator’s deputy chief executive, David Holsworth, 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.”
Penny Lawrence has quit as Deputy Chief Executive of Oxfam amid the prostitution scandal engulfing the charity.
Ms Lawrence resigned on Monday as the charity faced mounting criticism following claims of sexual misconduct by its staff.
The charity has denied it tried to cover the use of prostitutes by workers in Haiti in 2011 and in Chad.
Ms Lawrence said she took “full responsibility” for the behaviour of staff in Chad and Haiti “that we failed to act adequately upon”.
In a statement Penny Lawrence said: “I am deeply sad to announce that I have resigned as deputy chief executive of Oxfam GB.
“Over the last few days we have become aware that concerns were raised about the behaviour of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon.
“It is now clear that these allegations – involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behaviour of both the Country Director and members of his team in Chad – were raised before he moved to Haiti.
“As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch and I take full responsibility.
“I am desperately sorry for the harm and distress that this has caused to Oxfam’s supporters, the wider development sector and most of all the vulnerable people who trusted us.
“It has been such a privilege to work for such an amazing organisation that has done and needs to continue to do such good in the world.”
Four members of Oxfam staff were dismissed and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of a 2011 investigation into claims of sexual misconduct.
The allegations included claims that staff members held sex parties at villas with prostitutes – some of whom could have been underage.
Oxfam chiefs were called in for crisis talks with International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt on Monday, following the reports.