Full marks to Penny Mordaunt, the relatively new International Development Secretary, for taking such a tough line over public cash for Oxfam, whose reputation is now rightly in tatters following the use of prostitutes by some of their staff – while they were supposed to be engaged in urgent relief work for earthquake victims in Haiti.
It is especially commendable on her part for not allowing herself to be fobbed off by Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring’s misguided claim that the whole issue has been overplayed by the media and implying the events were not so grave, by a long chalk, as they have been depicted.
Oh yes, they are. Goldring is ludicrously asking the rhetorical question: ‘Did we murder babies in their cots?’
Goldring changed his tune in a later statement, expressing some contrition and apologies. A bit late for that now, Mr G. Some people have even been ‘joking’ – ‘There goes a knighthood!’ The fact is that Oxfam, which has received many millions of pounds of both public and private money over the years, was evasive, to say the least, when there were rumbles in 2011 about the conduct of some of their employees out in Haiti.
Oxfam admitted some staff had been sacked or had resigned without specifying why. It does seem strange, I admit, that those in charge of the purse strings did not probe further at the time. And somehow Oxfam got away with it at the time. But now the bubble has burst, and their future must now be uncertain to say the least.
There is already a groundswell of opinion which says that Goldring should go. A thorough clean-out of the Augean stables is desperately needed. If there is one good thing that can emerge from this mess, it’s that generous people will now be far more inclined to give their money to small charities, rather than these overweening international monoliths. That means small groups of dedicated unpaid volunteers who help out hospitals, hospices and the like up and down the country will benefit from this sorry affair.
At least people will know where their money is going and that it’s being properly and worthily used.