The boss of Oxfam boss has said the response to the charity’s sex abuse scandal is “out of proportion” and he “struggles to understand” why.
Mark Goldring told The Guardian the “intensity and ferocity” of the response to the scandal was as if the charity had “murdered babies in their cots”.
The Oxfam GB chief executive also said he had not slept for six nights as the charity reeled from allegations of sex abuse by Oxfam workers in Haiti and a suggestion it covered up claims that staff used prostitutes while delivering aid.
Goldring’s deputy Penny Lawrence has already resigned over the scandal.
“The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability. I struggle to understand it.
“You think: ‘My God, there’s something going on there.’”
Goldring also hit out at Helen Evans, Oxfam’s former head of safeguarding turned whistleblower, who raised concerns about the safety of child volunteers in Oxfam’s shops in BRitain.
“I think it was very unbalanced and, ironically, didn’t give enough credit to the very work that she promoted,” he said.
“I don’t think she gives either herself or Oxfam enough credit for what was actually steady improvement.”
The newspapers roundly condemned his comments. The Daily Mirror called them “ill-judged and insensitive” and said it would set the charity back further.
Oxfam ran a full-page advert in Saturday’s Guardian, the same paper Goldring’s interview ran in, saying: “We are sorry.”
“We are so sorry for the appalling abuse that happened in our name,” the advert says.
“More than anything, we are sorry to the people of Haiti and other places where the conduct of Oxfam staff has been reprehensible.”
Oxfam International’s executive director Winnie Byanyima has said the charity will “do justice” and “atone for the past”.
She urged victims to come forward, saying she was “here for all the women who have been abused”.
Its funding from the taxpayer is in doubt after the charity agreed not to bid for fresh money after the scandal.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said her department would not consider funding Oxfam until it was satisfied that Oxfam can meet the “high standards” expected.
She added that the Government “reserves the right to take whatever decisions about present or future funding to Oxfam, and any other organisation, that we deem necessary”.
Oxfam received £31.7 million in taxpayer funding in 2016/17.