The chief executive of the British arm of international development charity Oxfam has announced he will step down after it emerged that staff paid women for sex following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Mark Goldring said a new leader was needed to win back public trust and rebuild relationships after Oxfam failed to mention the sexual exploitation in a public statement after an investigation into the scandal.
The inquiry led to Oxfam firing four staff members and three others quit including the country director Roland van Hauwermeiren but details of the sexual misconduct only emerged in reports by The Times newspaper in February this year.
The scandal led to further claims of misconduct coming to light with other charities also drawn into the affair. The scandal also raised questions over the effectiveness of regulators to oversee those working with some of the world’s most vulnerable.
“I feel anger at the impact of the abhorrent abuse of power by those individuals in Haiti in 2011 and Oxfam’s failure to protect the women we were there to support,” Mr Goldring said in his letter of resignation.
He said that he also felt “sadness” at the impact of coverage that undermined public support for humanitarian work. Questions over misconduct Oxfam extended to other charities who were forced to address their own failings. The head of Save the Children International also quit following allegations of misconduct among his senior officials.
Mr Goldring’s deputy, Penny Lawrence, quit in February over claims that the charity had failed to deal with previous allegations of sexual misconduct involving Mr Hauwermeiren in Chad before he moved to Haiti.
Mr Goldring’s position had been uncertain since the revelations of the Haiti sexual misconduct came to light after regulators and the government criticised Oxfam for a lack of transparency. He had not been in charge of the charity at the time of the episode.
He was also forced to apologise for an interview in which he played down the seriousness of the allegations, saying that aid workers had not “murdered babies in their cots”.
Mr Goldring said that he would stay on until a successor was found, according to his statement. “We need to ensure that Oxfam and all agencies are safe and worthy of public confidence, and we need to win trust back.
“Leading this journey feels to me like the role for a new CEO.”
The scandal has had a devastating impact on the charity with thousands of individuals stopping their donations and the government halting contracts worth millions of pounds.