Cafod puts employee implicated in Oxfam case on leave

The Catholic international aid charity says it was not aware of the allegations against its employee

Cafod's statement on its website
Cafod's statement on its website

This story has been corrected. Please see final paragraph.

Cafod, the Catholic international aid charity, has put one of its employees on leave after discovering he was one of the former Oxfam workers accused of sexual exploitation in Haiti.

The allegations were revealed by a story in The Times on Friday, which claimed that three employees resigned and four were sacked for gross misconduct after the investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation, bullying and intimidation, and the downloading of pornography.

The accusations of sexual exploitation first came to light at the charity in 2011 and, although the charity investigated the allegations and alerted the Charity Commission to the case, it did not tell the regulator, the UK government or the Haitian government about the nature of the misconduct.

Chris Bain, Cafod’s director, issued a statement last night.

Bain said: "The Times newspaper on 10 February wrote that a current Cafod employee was named as an Oxfam staff member who had been working in Haiti in 2011, amidst accusations of sexual misconduct."

The statement said Cafod had not been aware of the allegations made against this employee and had received two references, as standard practice, at the time of recruitment, but did not say which organisation or individual had provided the reference.

"After concerns were raised in this article, the staff member has been put on leave while we examine the issues raised and follow our code of behaviour protocol to determine the next steps," Bain said.

He said Cafod had a zero-tolerance approach to breaches of its behaviour code and robust safeguarding and whistleblowing policies.

"It is disheartening that the actions of a few unscrupulous aid workers might undermine trust in the life-saving work done by overseas development and humanitarian agencies, including Cafod, working alongside some of the poorest communities and helping them live life to the fullest," he said.

An Oxfam spokeswoman said: "Oxfam has not and would not provide a positive reference for any of those who were dismissed or resigned as a result of the case."

This story orginally said Roland van Hauwermeiren, the former Oxfam country director who was named in The Times story, was the employee Cafod had put on leave. Van Hauwermeiren has never worked for Cafod.

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