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Minnie Driver quits Oxfam role over sex scandal

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Actress Minnie Driver is the first celebrity to resign as an Oxfam ambassador in protest at the sex scandal engulfing the charity.

The Good Will Hunting star said she was "horrified" by allegations that some Oxfam staff had sex with prostitutes in crisis-hit Chad and Haiti.

Several of Oxfam's corporate sponsors including Sainsbury's, Visa, M&S and the Co-op bank, have contacted the charity to raise their concerns about the claims.

In a statement to The Telegraph, Driver said: "I am nothing short of horrified by the allegations against Oxfam International.

"In no uncertain terms do I plan to continue my support of this organisation or its leaders.

The British actress said she had supported Oxfam for 20 years, adding: "I certainly will not let the abhorrent mistakes of a troubling organisation stop me or anyone else from working with good people in this space to support a population of human beings around the world that needs our help."

All I can tell you about this awful revelation about Oxfam is that I am devastated.Devastated for the women who were used by people sent there to help them, devastated by the response of an organization that I have been raising awareness for since I was 9 years old #oxfamscandal

— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) February 13, 2018

Driver, 48, travelled to Thailand and Cambodia in her role with Oxfam and performed at a charity concert in London in 2004, joining stars such as Chris Martin, Razorlight and REM.

In a statement, Oxfam said the actress had been a "devoted Oxfam supporter for many years".

"Her decision to step down as an Oxfam Ambassador saddens us deeply, but we also understand and respect her choice," the charity said.

Image:Minnie Driver said she 'devastated' for women used by some Oxfam staff

"As an organisation, we are ashamed by the actions of some of our staff and are more committed now than ever to learn from our mistakes and ensure we uphold the highest levels of safeguarding standards in our work around the world."

Senior Oxfam aid workers are alleged to have used prostitutes in Haiti during the relief effort after the devastating earthquake in 2010.

The revelations, first reported in the Times, prompted further allegations that prostitutes were used by Oxfam staff in Chad in 2006.

It has now been claimed that the aid worker at the centre of the scandal, Roland van Hauwermeiren, joined Oxfam after he was dismissed by another British charity over similar allegations of sexual misconduct.

Former aid worker Amira Malik Miller told the humanitarian news website Irin that she raised concerns about van Hauwermeiren and several colleagues to Merlin, which merged with Save The Children in 2013.

Oxfam said it could not find records on its recruitment of van Hauwermeiren but its policy at the time was to get two references including a former employer.

Aid agencies stepped in to help the thousands left homeless after the Haiti earthquake
Image:Aid agencies stepped in to help the thousands left homeless after the Haiti earthquake

An Oxfam spokeswoman said: "This case further illustrates the need for a sector wide approach to track individuals guilty of misconduct and why we announced on Sunday a package of measures to strengthen our vetting and recruitment procedures."

The Charity Commission said it had contacted Save The Children to establish if it had records of Ms Miller's complaints.

A spokeswoman told Sky News: "This clearly raises issues for UK charities about recruitment, vetting and references for charity personnel, particularly in the context of international aid work to ensure that people who pose a significant risk to charities, their work and reputation are not allowed to infiltrate the charity sector."

Save The Children said it had never employed van Hauwermeiren, who left his role with Merlin nine years before the two organisations merged.

More from Oxfam

"We are unable to assist any further in this matter," a spokeswoman said.

The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry amid concerns Oxfam may not have "fully and frankly disclosed material details" when it first investigated the allegations of misconduct in 2011.

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