Mark Goldring had told the Guardian: “The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability. I struggle to understand it.“
Asked whether he wanted to apologise during a grilling by MPs, he said: “I do apologise, I was thinking under stress, I had given many interviews…I was thinking about the amazing work I’d seen Oxfam do across the world.
“I should not have said those things, it is not for Oxfam to judge issues of proportionality.”
Labour MP Stephen Twigg said Mr Goldring “appeared to be downplaying the scandal” warning that the comparison with murdering babies was “regarded as grossly inappropriate”.
He spoke while chairing a hearing of the International Development Committee, which announced a full inquiry on sexual exploitation in the wider aid sector.
Mr Goldring said 26 new alleged cases of misconduct had been reported by Oxfam staff since a call for submissions was put out by the organisation, with 16 of those in international programmes.
Oxfam’s chair of trustees, Caroline Thomson, and Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, are also giving evidence to MPs.
The committee will also take evidence from Save The Children about proposals it has put forward on safeguarding and from the permanent secretary at the Department for International Development, Matthew Rycroft about what the department knew over the alleged use of prostitutes by aid workers.
It came after the charity issued a formal apology to the government of Haiti, where the President said “basic human decency” was violated in the wake of a devastating earthquake that left more than 100,000 people dead in 2010.
“There is nothing more shameful than a sexual predator using the veil of catastrophe as a means to exploit the vulnerable in their most defenceless moments,” Jovenel Moise said.
“This case also is disheartening because the funds enabling these crimes were given in the name of the British people and with altruistic intent.”
Oxfam has released the report of an internal inquiry into sexual misconduct by staff members, which resulted in four members of staff being sacked and three others including the country director resigning.
Its own 2011 investigation called for other charities to be warned of ”problem staff“, but Oxfam rehired one of the men involved for a number of those involved to take up other posts in the aid sector and others were able to gain work at charities including Action Against Hunger.
Theresa May described the disclosures in the report as ”absolutely horrific“ and warned standards had fallen ”far below“ those expect of the charities and the NGOs that work with the Government.
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