While the row over past behaviour by some workers in the charity sector, by taking advantage of needy young women in areas hit by war and natural disasters, continues, one disgraced former minister is revelling in the opportunity to settle scores and put one over on the Civil Service, who thus far have been unable to defend their corner. To no surprise at all, self-promoting Tory MP Priti Patel is that person.
As I observed yesterday, there appears to be an attempt here to have Oxfam, and other charities, punished by defunding rather than finding out what the problem was, what it still may be, and what the organisations concerned need to do in order to put their houses in order. It should be remembered that what the Murdoch Times uncovered last week had happened seven years ago. If that behaviour has been eradicated since, why the ruckus?
Well, Ms Patel has claimed there was “a culture of denial in the aid sector about the exploitation and sexual abuse that has taken place historically for decades”. So why did she do nothing about it during her time there? Ah, but she had an answer ready: “People knew in DfID, I raised this directly with my department at the time … My former department did not raise this issue with me. I raised it with them through my own investigations and my own research”. So where is this research published? One should not, it seems, ask that.
Moreover, Ms Patel has now given her superior insights to the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, telling them “I would like to say that I was supported and presented with facts from the department laying out the long history that UK governments, Labour and Conservative, had in tackling this global problem. Sadly, I can’t”.
There was more, as the Murdoch Sun conveniently retold: “Officials at the highest levels knew about this sort of thing … Why was a government department not calling for prosecutions, and taking money away from Oxfam as far back at 2011? People need to go away and ask questions about why they didn’t do more at the time”.
And the willingness to take her at her word - without any other source to back up her claims - continues as the Murdoch goons claim “Ms Patel’s dust up over whether to air sex abuse concerns by charity and NGO workers came before a speech she gave to the UN in New York last September … Senior DFID staff told the former minister - who resigned three months ago - that abuse had only been carried out by UN soldiers on peace keeping missions, and to claim otherwise was ‘over-stepping the mark’”.
Which “Senior DFID staff” said that? The Sun does not tell us. But it does want to frighten the readers into accepting the most draconian possible punishment against Oxfam: “Fears are spiraling that paedophiles have specifically targetted overseas aid organisations … But critics accused DFID of not wanting to act for fear of giving aid spending a bad name and tarnishing the controversial 0.7 per cent target”. IT’S THE PAEDOS AGAIN!
Priti Patel was never the most honest of politicians. But she is among the most shameless of opportunists. All of which makes it the most fortunate and ripe-smelling of coincidences that the foreign aid and charity haters out there on the right are making haste to have charities defunded before we get to figure out what has been going on.
And before anyone confirms Ms Patel’s smear against the Civil Service.