THE front of Oxfam stores bear slogans telling of its good work. The charity grows vegetables, fills classrooms, builds wells, fights poverty and empowers women, the signs say.

Expanding on these posters, Oxfam’s slick website goes into great detail about its various projects. The untapped contribution of women, it says, is a priority that it is working to correct by supporting organisations that focus on gender equality, legal reform, and ending violence against women. It put women’s rights at the heart of everything it does.

Fine words, but it’s a shame no-one passed this mission statement onto the staff who felt the need to invite prostitutes to sex parties at their villas in between working to rebuild earthquake-hit Haiti.

Loading article content

This week’s revelations show how easy it is for all of an organisation’s good deeds to be completely overshadowed, in this case by woeful mishandling of the 2011 sex allegations.

Further worrying claims have emerged in recent days bringing new questions about the charity’s governance and accountability.

It is crucial that Oxfam gets its house in order sooner rather than later, and implements more robust procedures to restore the faith of the public, which has been sorely tested by such shocking stories.

But it is also important that in shining a light on those who have done wrong, the whole charity sector is not tarnished by their actions.

Too many vulnerable people in all sections of society rely on charitable support – whether at home or abroad – to entertain talk of cutting taxpayer funding or stopping donations.