Oxfam head denies cover up of sex scandal at former workplace 

The head of Oxfam has denied covering up a sex scandal at the Royal Commonwealth Society
The head of Oxfam has denied covering up a sex scandal at the Royal Commonwealth Society

The chief executive of Oxfam who vowed to clean up the charity after the Haiti sex scandal has been forced to deny covering up similar wrongdoing at his former workplace.

Danny Sriskandarajah, who joined Oxfam as chief executive last year after the former chief and his deputy quit in the wake of the revelations, promised ‘systematic and cultural changes’ at the charity.  

Yet a previous employee at the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), said that while under Dr Sriskandarajah’s leadership in 2009 a senior figure was allowed to ‘quietly resign’ after it emerged he had paid for sex during taxpayer-funded trips to Amsterdan and Los Angeles.

Nigel McCollum, the former head of public affairs at the RCS, told the Mail on Sunday that he blew the whistle on the employee but was shocked to find little action was taken, and the man was allowed to move to another job in the charity sector.

Mr McCollum said he himself ended up being ostracised, made to sign a gagging order and eventually forced out of the charity.

Speaking about the Haiti cover-up, Mr McCollum said: “This is remarkably similar to what happened on his watch at the RCS.

“This man covered up a scandal there, so he should not have been hired to clean up Oxfam. It's staggering.”

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah when he was Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society Credit: Rii Schroer

However Dr Sriskandarajah denied the allegations, claiming he was unaware of the specifics of the case as it had been handled by the trustees of the RCS.

“I was not involved in, or party to, any decisions relating to the resignation referred to in the Mail on Sunday,” he said in a statement last night.

“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 RCS I was assured by the trustees that the allegations related to the individual's personal life and not the RCS."

Oxfam refused to confirm whether it would investigate the allegations, despite calls by MP David Morris for an inquiry.

“'It stands to reason that the person brought in to clean up Oxfam must himself be beyond reproach.” said Mr Morris.

“Therefore, these allegations must be investigated as a matter of the utmost urgency.”

The RCS said legal advice was taken by the Council of Trustees to ensure that all the relevant disclosures were made and due practice followed with regard to the resignation.