Kitty Norwell/Oxfam

Caroline Thomson
Caroline Thomson

Caroline's statement in full

For anyone who cares about Oxfam and the work we do, the report published by the Charity Commission will make for difficult reading. It describes serious sexual misconduct by some of our staff in Haiti in 2011, and it criticises the way we investigated and reported on the case at the time.

These are very uncomfortable findings for Oxfam Great Britain. But we accept them.

What happened in Haiti was shameful and we are deeply sorry. It was a terrible abuse of power that goes against everything we stand for. I want to again apologise to all those who personally suffered. To the people of Haiti, and to our donors and supporters here at home. We let you down.

After the events in Haiti, we made improvements to our safeguarding - but we accept that should have gone further faster. We are already acting on the recommendations of an independent review which informed the Commission's work - including by looking again at a number of past safeguarding cases.

As Chair of Trustees, it is my role to ensure that Oxfam GB learns the lessons of past. We must put victims and survivors first, and ensure that 'zero tolerance' for perpetrators means just that. In particular, having long campaigned for the rights of women and girls, we must always hold ourselves to the standards we demand of others - something I feel particularly strongly about.

Oxfam is changing. As the Commission notes, we've tripled our investment in this area - creating a Director of Safeguarding position, and training over a hundred investigators, covering every country in which we operate. We've appointed a new Chief Executive, Danny Sriskandarajah, to ensure that we do even more.

As I have seen for myself, Oxfam's work - whether fighting famine, helping communities protect themselves from Ebola or giving people the tools they need to escape poverty - is as vital as ever. But we must deliver it in a way that is safe and secure for all those we serve - so that HOW we operate is every bit as important as WHAT we do. Anything less would be a betrayal of our mission.

I'm the first to acknowledge that our journey of change and improvement is far from complete. But I am also convinced the steps we have taken, and are taking, have put Oxfam on the right path for the future.

Thank you

Caroline Thomson, Chair of Oxfam GB Trustees

Caroline Thomson was Oxfam GB’s Chair of Trustees from October 2017 to October 2020.