23/02/2018 15:03 GMT | Updated 23/02/2018 15:20 GMT

Oxfam Chief Among Charity Bosses Saying 'Sorry' Over Sex Scandals

Exclusive: 22 charity heads pledge rigorous background checks for staff.

JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
Oxfam's under-fire CEO Mark Goldring has co-signed a letter to say 'sorry' for sex scandals to hit charity sector

Aid agency bosses have today revealed they will pursue criminal checks on all their staff in Britain, as they write in an open letter that they are “truly sorry” for a series of scandals sweeping the sector.

Oxfam’s under-fire chief executive Mark Goldring is among 22 charity heads who have pledged to conduct “rigorous background checks” in the UK, amid widespread allegations of sexual misconduct in high street shops.

The crisis-hit charity was forced to admit this month that 52 incidents occurred in its high street shops last year.

And a further five claims were made since a bombshell Times investigation exposed alleged wrongdoing by Oxfam staff in Haiti.

In an open letter, published first on HuffPost UK, Goldring and the other 21 chiefs, wrote: “We will work with the Government to ensure that we can overcome the legal and institutional barriers to rigorous background checks in the UK.”

It comes after a HuffPost investigation last week exposed startling inconsistencies in safeguarding protocols across the sector.

Oxfam, which has 650 UK shops, told HuffPost last week that it was reviewing the use of Disclosure and Barring Service checks on the 23,000 volunteers, including those who help run stores where it allows 14-year-olds to work.

The move came after the charity’s former head of safeguarding, Helen Evans, told Channel 4 News that she was aware of three separate allegations of child abuse in shops during a single month in 2015.

And as a former Oxfam volunteer manager revealed her fears abuse could “absolutely” take place in shops.

The other charities to sign the pledge to pursue “rigorous” checks include Save the Children, which last week refused to answer HuffPost’s questions over allegations of misconduct in its 140 stores.

Save the Children’s former boss Justin Forsyth on Thursday quit his job at UNICEF after admitting to “inappropriate” behaviour.

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