Oxfam GB’s chief executive has apologised to a parliamentary committee for the actions of charity staff who sexually exploited female victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
And Mark Goldring also apologised for his own comments which appeared to play down the seriousness of the scandal, when he told a newspaper that the charity was being attacked as if it had “murdered babies in their cots”.
Mr Goldring was appearing alongside other Oxfam executives in front of the Commons International Development Committee, which is probing sexual exploitation in the aid sector.
He acknowledged that Oxfam’s actions had damaged the whole aid effort, as well as the people of Haiti.
Calling on Mr Goldring to apologise, committee chairman Stephen Twigg said the parallel he drew with the murder of babies in his interview with the Guardian was regarded by many people as “grossly inappropriate”.
The Oxfam chief executive responded: “I do apologise. I was under stress, I’d given many interviews, I’d made many decisions to try to lead Oxfam’s response to this. I was thinking about amazing work I’ve seen Oxfam do across the world, most recently with refugees coming from Myanmar.
“I should not have said those things. It is not for Oxfam to judge issues of proportionality or motivation.
“I repeat Oxfam’s broader apology and my personal apology. I am sorry, we are sorry, for the damage Oxfam has done both to the people of Haiti but also to wider efforts for aid and development by possibly undermining public support.
“I wholeheartedly apologise for those comments and commit to work in that greater public interest so that Oxfam can make a powerful role in the world that we all believe in.”