Mordaunt calls in Oxfam, as the charity’s deputy chief executive resigns

‘Oxfam’s deputy chief executive resigned on Monday, admitting the charity knew a senior aid worker had been accused of using prostitutes in Africa but still deployed him to Haiti. Penny Lawrence said that allegations were made about Roland van Hauwermeiren and members of his team using prostitutes when he was Oxfam’s country director in Chad in the 2000s. Mr van Hauwermeiren was reassigned to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, but resigned a year later in a sexual exploitation scandal. “As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch and I take full responsibility,” Ms Lawrence said in a statement. The scandal surrounding Oxfam’s handling of events in Haiti has exposed serious failings in how aid organisations deal with alleged abuse by their staff. It also stands to undermine public support for some of Britain’s best known charities, as well as the UK government’s £13bn annual aid budget. Penny Mordaunt, the UK secretary for international development, met Oxfam executives on Monday and told the charity to pass information to foreign governments so that “appropriate legal processes” could begin against the individuals involved.’

  • Ex-head of safeguarding accuses other senior figures of knowing about allegations but doing nothing – Daily Telegraph
  • The Development Secretary wants abusers named and prosecuted – Daily Mail
  • Shoppers consider a boycott – The Times
  • Oxfam could lose European funding, too – The Guardian
  • Former senior official accuses UN aid workers of tens of thousands of rapes – The Sun
  • Questions for DfID officials – Daily Mail



>Today: The Moggcast, Episode Three: He makes the case for aid to be based on “investment rather than expenditure”

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The withdrawal of public funds is the best thing that could happen to Oxfam

Brexit 1) The Government is ‘set to agree’ 31st December 2020 as the end-date of any transition period

‘The UK is due to leave the European Union three months early as the UK Brexit team are set to agree to a shorter transition period than the original two years, it has been revealed. Brexiteers will be celebrating after it has been revealed negotiators are preparing to accept a shorter transitional period which would end on New Years Eve 2020, despite Theresa May originally requesting two years in her Florence Speech last September. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said the cut off should be December 31, 2020, after he said the UK must “decide” what kind of Brexit it wants.’ – Daily Express

  • Member States are unhappy about Barnier’s threat to punish the UK – The Sun
  • This makes a positive deal more likely – Daily Mail
  • Hammond is going on a charm tour – Daily Telegraph
  • France can’t tempt British companies away – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Commissioner warns of ‘nuclear bomb’ of migrant ghettos – The Sun
  • NHS bosses want immigration rules relaxed to let more doctors in – The Times


Brexit 2) Johnson appeals to former Remain voters to support a liberal, free-trading future

‘The founding fathers of the European Union did not create the common market to tear down barriers to trade but to pursue a political project, Boris Johnson will argue this week, in a speech setting out what he claims is a liberal vision for Brexit. The foreign secretary will call on remain and leave voters to unite, insisting that Britain can take advantage of the referendum vote for economic gain but only if it is ready to diverge on regulations. In the first of a series of speeches by senior cabinet ministers, Johnson wants to appeal to the instincts of those who voted remain, but his argument will be heavily criticised by those who see the EU as a major liberalising force.’ – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Poland’s new Holocaust law is unworthy of one of the great, civilised nations of Europe

May at Stormont: With “one final push”, a new Northern Ireland Executive could be “up and running soon”

‘Prime Minister Theresa May has told the Northern Ireland parties they have one final chance to restore the Stormont institutions. Mrs May was speaking after flying into Belfast on Monday. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also made the trip to the city with speculation a deal on restoring the Northern Ireland institutions was imminent. Speaking at Stormont House, she said she had spoke with the leaders of the main parties involved. “I have urged them to make one final push for the sake of the people of Northern Ireland,” she said. “It has been 13 long months since we last saw devolved government here and we are now at the point where it is for the local elected representatives to find a way to work together to find a deal with the many pressing issues facing Northern Ireland.” She described her meetings with the five main parties as “full and frank”. “There is the basis for an agreement – it should be possible to see an Executive up and running very soon.”‘ – Belfast Telegraph

  • Hopes of a deal this week – FT
  • She and Varadkar will work on plans for a frictionless border – The Guardian

Griffiths, the minister promoting shared parental leave, isn’t allowed to take it himself

‘A business minister promoting shared parental leave for couples has admitted he’s barred from taking part in the scheme. Dad-to-be Andrew Griffiths gave a radio interview championing the Government policy offering both parents the chance to share leave when they have a baby. But questioned over the take-up of the policy he revealed he was unable to take up the opportunity for time off when his baby arrives in April. He told how ministers were “office holders rather than employees” and were not allowed to take it…He replied: “Ministers are not allowed to take shared parental leave. But I think I am going to be the first-ever minister responsible for maternity and paternity to take their full allocation of paternity. I’ve already told my office that I’m taking two weeks off.”’ – The Sun

  • Only two per cent of eligible couples use the scheme – Daily Mail

The US wants the ISIS ‘Beatles’ tried in the UK – but Williamson says we don’t want them

‘Britain was engaged in a diplomatic row with the United States last night over the fate of two Londoners suspected of being members of the murderous Islamic State cell dubbed “the Beatles”. James Mattis, the US defence secretary, has ruled out sending Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh to Guantanamo Bay, the US internment facility in Cuba, after they were captured in Syria, officials have said. He appears to favour putting foreign Isis fighters on trial in their country of origin. It is understood that Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, does not want the men to return to Britain to face trial. Kotey, 34, and Elsheikh, 29, were stripped of their British citizenship after joining Isis. “The day these barbaric terrorists turned their back on this country in pursuit of an evil agenda of bloodshed and slaughter, they forfeited their right ever to return,” a Whitehall source told The Times. “They are not British subjects and should pay the price for their crimes in Syria.”’ – The Times

  • Bring jihadis to justice – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Free bot released to detect extremist propaganda online – The Times
  • Trump offers to stop building new nuclear weapons – Daily Mail
  • Netanyahu has been discussing with the US the possibility of annexing West Bank settlements – Daily Mail

Wallace: From North Korea’s ‘cheerleaders’ to Putin’s Olympic invasions, the West must wise up about tyrants’ propaganda

‘The BBC and the New Yorker call them “mesmerising”. Plenty of others have laughed indulgently at the display for its kitsch nature and its downright oddity. But such responses run the risk of handing North Korea a propaganda victory. Those oddballs with their cutesy Stepford Wife cheer squad. The pudgy dictator with his bad haircut. The hermit nation, a state-sized version of the neighbourhood recluse who shouts at pigeons. The truth is far more grim. The “beauties” are, in effect, slaves…From North Korea’s cheerleaders to Putin’s shameless look-over-there opportunism, why does the free world so often fall for propaganda games? We have short memories. The Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was up, and while it’s not that long ago that the Soviet Empire threatened the world, we have too quickly forgotten the reality of tyranny. We routinely underestimate extremely bad people – and therefore fail to spot when they are playing us.’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

The Business Select Committee backs an energy price cap

‘A price cap must be enforced on the Big Six energy firms urgently to stop them abusing loyal customers paying up to £300 more than others. That’s the verdict from the powerful Commons Business and Energy committee, which has branded the market as “broken” and slammed the biggest companies for years of overcharging. And they ripped into sluggish regulator Ofgem for being too “slow and reluctant” to use its powers to step in and protect customers – especially the most vulnerable. MPs said the gas and electricity giants had brought plans to limit bills on themselves as they backed plans for a temporary absolute cap to fix the problem… But regulators have warned the cap on 17million bills may not be in place until the start of 2019. Customers are paying £1.4 billion a year too much under the current system, with at least 12 million stuck on poor-value tariffs.’ – The Sun

  • Rush to build a thousand onshore wind turbines before subsidies were scrapped – The Times
  • Let’s embrace the shale revolution – Matt Ridley, The Times

Corbyn criticises racist and homophobic Labour MP, but refuses to suspend him

‘Jeremy Corbyn has condemned racist and homophobic comments by a Scottish Labour MP as “completely wrong”. But the Labour leader said Hugh Gaffney had “recognised and understood” that his language was unacceptable and apologised. Mr Gaffney, MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, referred to a “Chinky” takeaway meal and joked about Robert Burns not being “bent” during a Burns supper. Critics have since called on him to “consider his position”, insisting Labour’s failure to suspend him was a “slap in the face” to ethnic minorities.’ – The Herald

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Labour’s identity politics continues to eat itself

UKIP chairman resigns

‘The chair of Ukip has announced his intention to step down in a major blow to the party just days before leader, Henry Bolton, faces a confidence vote. In a letter to members, Paul Oakden insisted that his decision was unconnected to the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to be held on Saturday, but did outline a series of frustrations in his role. “Being the chairman of Ukip is an honour and a privilege,” he said. “It doesn’t come with champagne lunches, a whopping salary or great esteem. What it does bring are thousands of emails and letters, occasional angry members whom it’s just not possible to pacify, chairing the board, acting as a diplomat between the NEC and a leader (or five) and generally being the person whose fate it is to disappoint almost everybody.” Oakden described this as the “baseline” of his role and said it expanded from there – but did say he was lucky to have the opportunity.’ – The Guardian

  • Bolton will send his racist ex a Valentine’s card – The Sun

News in Brief