Murray Edwards President confirms that she knew of sexual abuse during her time at Oxfam

Will Bennett 10 February 2018

After allegations that Murray Edwards President Dame Barbara Stocking covered up sexual misconduct in 2011 during her time at Oxfam, she has now appeared on BBC Newsnight confirming that she knew that this sort of behaviour was going on prior to 2011.  

Stocking’s most striking comment was that “sexual exploitation was going on – we knew in a lot of places – with some Oxfam staff who have been investigated”.  The interview has come very soon after a Murray Edwards statement was released declaring that the “College believes these allegations to be untrue”.

The initial accusation was that, while providing aid after the Haitian earthquake of 2010, workers are believed to have hired prostitutes.  Oxfam have defended themselves over this, declaring that they reported this to the charities regulator at the time.

Confessing that with hindsight she might have acted differently, Barbara Stocking has said that the right thing to do at the time seemed like getting “this whole thing closed down as fast as we could possibly do it.”  Some of the Oxfam staff who are were accused of sexual misconduct had been investigated for 12 years and reports were submitted every quarter on the findings of these reports.  

Stocking also kept the 68 year old country director in Haiti on the Oxfam payroll for a further month, after it became known that he had invited young women to his company sponsored villa for sex. In the Newsnight interview, she claimed that this was because Oxfam 'wanted him there'.

Stocking also remarked that what took place is “not normal and acceptable – that's what we said at the time and its what I would say now”.  

In a statement, Murray Edwards said: "On the basis of the College's understanding of the avaliable details on the matter, it continues to express the belief that allegations of a cover-up are untrue."

The College went on to say, "Since 2013 when she was appointed, Dame Barbara has been a highly effective president of the College, not only in pursuing its academic objectives but also in championing issues of gender equality more generally. The College continues to express its full support in Dame Barbara as its president."