Oxfam chief denies he covered up sex scandal in previous job

The Mail on Sunday yesterday claimed that a senior figure at the Royal Commonwealth Society, then led by Danny Sriskandarajah, was allowed to 'quietly resign' after it was found he had had encounters with sex workers

The Mail on Sunday story
The Mail on Sunday story

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, has refuted claims he was involved in covering up a sex scandal at a charity he formerly led.

Yesterday's Mail on Sunday front page alleged that a senior figure at the Royal Commonwealth Society was allowed to "quietly resign" after it was discovered he had had encounters with sex workers.

The newspaper said the incident, which allegedly occurred after Sriskandarajah was appointed director in 2009, raised questions about his suitability to clean up Oxfam after he pledged to put the charity's house in order.

Nigel McCollum, who was the society's head of public affairs at the time, told the newspaper that he discovered evidence about the unnamed senior figure.

But McCollum said he was ostracised by the society for raising the alarm and eventually departed after signing a financial settlement and a gagging order.

The reasons for the senior figure's departure were not revealed, he added.

Sriskandarajah, who was director of the society from 2009 to 2012, said in a statement: "I was not involved in, or party to, any decisions relating to the resignation referred to in The Mail on Sunday.

"The matter was rightly dealt with by the trustees at the time and not me. I had been in post for just eight weeks at the time of the resignation.

"As the director of the society I was assured by the trustees that the allegations related to the individual's personal life and not the society."

Asked whether Oxfam was looking into the claims, a spokeswoman said it was not commenting beyond Sriskandarajah's statement, which she said "speaks for itself".

Speaking after last week's critical report by the Charity Commission on Oxfam's handling of the Haiti safeguarding scandal, Sriskandarajah, who joined the charity this year, said his "first duty has been to ensure that Oxfam learns the lessons of the past and improves our policies and practices".

Nathan McKenzie, head of public affairs and engagement at the Royal Commonwealth Society, said none of the charity's current staff or trustees were involved with the organisation in 2009.

McKenzie said the 151-year old society was a much smaller organisation now than a decade ago, mainly because of the closure of its Commonwealth Club in 2013.

He said questions relating to 2009 were matters for staff and trustees at the time.

"We are confident we have the correct staff procedures and transparency in place now," he said.

Third Sector asked the Charity Commission is it was investigating the matter, but did not receive a response before publication of this story.

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