Revealed: At least 14 cases of sexual harassment at UK aid department since 1995

Posted On: 
5th March 2018

The Department for International Development has been forced to reprimand staff in 14 cases of sexual harassment in just over 20 years, it was revealed today.

Penny Mordaunt told a summit in London: “Now is the time for action."
Credit: 
PA Images

Most of the cases involved sexual harassment between staff members, while none were found to have involved paying for sex, sexual misconduct with under-18s or exploitation in exchange for aid.

The figures were revealed as International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt called on charities to improve standards as part of a crunch summit in the wake of the Oxfam scandal fallout.

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Over recent weeks it has emerged that a string of charities covered up sex scandals both overseas and at home.

DfID Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft revealed the findings of an internal review into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations concerning departmental staff.

It found that 14 cases had been substantiated at home and abroad since 1995 - including complaints ranging from inappropriate language to more serious incidents.

Action was taken in all the cases in line with departmental policies at the time of the incidents - but DfID said none of them should have been passed to prosecutors.

Meanwhile a number of existing or newly reported incidents are currently under investigation.

At the meeting today - which was organised by DfID and the Charity Commission and was attended by charities including Oxfam - Ms Mordaunt said the sector faced a “crucial moment” for reform.

She told the summit in London: “Now is the time for action. The aid sector needs to ensure it is meeting its duty of care to the world’s most vulnerable people.

“It needs to be honest about past mistakes. It must do all it can to win back the trust of the British public.”

She said some 26 aid organisations has reported 80 current and historic cases of people being harmed or at risk of harm over the past three weeks.