Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: Oxfam faces losing funding as crisis grows over abuse claims

17 February 2018

9:00 AM

17 February 2018

9:00 AM


The Charity Commission said it would hold a statutory inquiry into a scandal in which Oxfam staff paid for prostitutes in Haiti in 2011. Penny Lawrence resigned as deputy chief executive of the charity, saying that allegations had been raised about Roland van Hauwermeiren, Oxfam’s country director in Chad, before he moved to Haiti. He resigned in 2011, when Oxfam referred to unspecified ‘serious misconduct’. Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, said that no organisation could be a government partner if it did not ‘have the moral leadership to do the right thing’. Last year, Oxfam received £32 million from the government. Priti Patel, the previous development secretary, said she was aware of a wider problem of sexual abuse and child exploitation. The former football coach Barry Bennell, aged 64, was convicted at Liverpool crown court of 36 sexual offences against boys aged eight to 15.

After two days of meetings on Brexit by the inner cabinet, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, promised a speech on the subject herself. But first, Boris Johnson made a speech on why he saw Brexit as ‘grounds for much more hope than fear’. Publication of a European Union paper saying that access to the single market could be denied Britain during its post-Brexit transition period, if there was a disagreement, had not been ‘in good faith’, according to David Davis, the Brexit Secretary. Michel Barnier, the European Union’s Brexit negotiator, had said that a transition period for Britain was ‘not a given’. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, told of an online device that could detect jihadist content and block it. Mrs May and Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, visited Belfast, but an expected agreement between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein to restore devolved government did not materialise. London City Airport was closed for a day until a bomb from the second world war could be taken down the Thames for a controlled explosion.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that Labour would put public utilities such as water, electricity generation and the railways ‘irreversibly in the hands of workers’. ‘It would be cost free,’ he said. ‘You borrow to buy an asset and when that asset is producing profits like the water industry does, that will cover your borrowing cost.’ The Serious Fraud Office charged Barclays Bank plc with ‘unlawful financial assistance’ in connection with billions of pounds raised from Qatar in 2008; the same charges had been brought against the parent company, Barclays plc, last year. Trinity Mirror, the owner of the Daily Mirror, is to pay £126 million for the publishing assets of Northern & Shell, chaired by Richard Desmond, which owns the Daily Express and Daily Star. Yorkshire was found to be exporting unwanted cats to London, where they are in demand.


Two members of an Isis cell said to have beheaded 27 people, and tortured and crucified more, had been captured by Kurdish forces, according to United States officials. Alexanda Kotey, 34, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 29, both from London, were members of a quartet nicknamed the Beatles, of whom Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed Jihadi John, was killed by a drone in Syria in 2015 and Aine Davis had been imprisoned in Turkey. Israel launched air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria after an Iranian drone was reported to have flown into Israel; an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down by Syrian air defences. The Egyptian army said it had killed 16 Islamist terrorists in Sinai. Thomas Cook resumed flights to Tunisia for British customers for the first time since the attack of 2015.

Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, said he would welcome the ‘warm climate of reconciliation’ with South Korea created by the Winter Olympics, attended by his sister Kim Yo-jong. An Antonov An-148 jet bound for the Urals crashed with the loss of all 71 on board 50 miles from Moscow. Police arrested a man at Lisbon airport and accused him of smuggling a kilogram of cocaine in a pair of false buttocks.

The African National Congress formally asked Jacob Zuma to resign as President of South Africa. Boris Johnson visited Burma and held talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s leader. Police said that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, should be charged over allegations of bribery. Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, was deported to Poland by Ukraine. The parliament building in Tonga was demolished by a cyclone.            CSH

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