Downing Street lobby briefing on Priti Patel and sex abuse in the charity sector

Posted On: 
12th February 2018

Here is a summary of this morning's briefing for lobby journalists by the Prime Minister's official spokesman.

Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister’s spokesman refused to be drawn on whether senior civil servants had colluded in a cover-up of sexual abuse in the charity sector.

But he did say that the Government was committed to tackling abuse, pointing to International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt’s meeting today with Oxfam to discuss mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct by its staff in Haiti.

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In the wake of the revelations former international development secretary Priti Patel accused senior DfID officials of ignoring evidence of sexual exploitation among leading international charities.  

Asked if Theresa May had spoken to the ex-Cabinet minister about her concerns, a Downing Street spokesman said: “I’m not going to get into details of private conversations.”

Asked repeatedly if the Prime Minister would look into Ms Patel’s claims, he insisted that the department was already taking action.

“This is an issue the secretary of state raised at the time,” he said.

“DfID are taking action in this area to try and further strengthen systems and to enforce a zero-tolerance approach. There is a number of measures they have taken but clearly we want to go further.

“Our position on this was set out at the weekend by the current secretary of state. We want to see charities have robust systems in place.

“The horrific behaviour by some members of Oxfam staff… is an example of wider abuse against which DfID is already taking action both in the UK and within the international community.

“All I can say to you is that DfID has taken action on this important issue. Obviously further steps need to be taken.”

Ms Mordaunt will today meet Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring.