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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  February 9, 2018 11:15pm-11:46pm GMT

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tonight... the government exists has no tolerance. why did oxfam take no disciplinary action about members of staff found guilty of sexual exploitation in haiti. how rife is it within the charity and the sector at large? as the prime minister orders a full and urgent investigation, we'll ask what went wrong. also tonight... as syria's war rumbles on, newsnight receives fresh footage that suggests the assad regime has returned to chemical warfare. it looks like significant chemical weapons attack, without shadow of a doubt. and this could well be sarin? it could well be. and... raising the black flag. america's bad boy meets newsnight‘s bad boy. henry rollins meetsjohn sweeney. we're as terrified as you are. do you fancy an arm wrestle? good evening. in the last few minutes the department for international
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development has announced it is reviewing work with oxfam after the times revealed documents which suggested the charity had covered up a sexual exploitation scandal in haiti. three charity workers including its country director resigned and four more dismissed after an investigation uncovered various examples of inappropriate behaviour, including the use of prostitutes, bullying and intimidation at the height of the relief effort following a devastating earthquake in 2011. today the former chief executive of oxfam told this programme she was aware of other, earlier cases of sexual exploitation by staff members whilst she was in charge of the charity. tonight, questions are being asked about why oxfam failed to warn other aid agencies of the behaviour, as oxfam admitted it could not guarantee the former employees had not taken up otherjobs among vulnerable people in disaster zones around the world. the 2010 earthquake in port—au—prince killed 220,000 people and left another 1.5 million homeless. the international relief rescue was huge and at its very centre,
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the renowned british charity and household name, 0xfam. today an investigation by the times revealed that amidst the devastation and trauma of the quake—ravaged country, members of the charity's staff were engaged in sexual exploitation, bullying and intimidation, as well as the downloading of pornography. 0xfam was made aware of what it called a culture of impunity at the time and allowed three men to resign, sacking four others for gross misconduct. the press release issued at the time made no mention of sexual misconduct but the confidential report stated it could not rule out the possibility that the prostitutes were under age. one of the men allowed to resign without disciplinary action was the country director, roland van hauwermeiren, who admitted using prostitutes at the villa rented for him by 0xfam with charitable funds. the chief executive at the time, barbara stocking, offered him a dignified exit, including
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a month's pay, to avoid repercussions on the charity's work and staff. 0xfam's mission statement champions helping marginalised women to claim their rights and empowering people to create a secure future. so why were the men involved never publicly disciplined 7 why did the charity allow this perception of a cover—up? and how can taxpayers be sure that money is being spent by organisations with thorough oversight of the actions of their staff? before we came on air, i talked to barbara stocking, 0xfam's former ceo. she stood down from the role in 2013. i asked her why she hadn't investigated the people involved. the first moment i heard back in 2011 we sent an investigation team. also, it's not true that it wasn't transparent. we put a press release out when the investigation team was investigating. we put a press release out after that as well. hang on a second.
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the charity commission said they're still awaiting the full report and the man at the centre of this, your country director, roland van hauwermeiren, was not even fired. let's take one at a time. the charity commission said at the time, because we informed them about it, reported to them about it, and they said that there were no regulatory concerns about it. that's what happened at the time. we also actually told dfid. why do they say then that they're still awaiting the full report? they're still awaiting that report from you. i don't know because i'm not still there, but at the time there was no question that they had said, they were happy that the trustees were taking this seriously and dealing with it. they were happy that a man hadn't even been fired for having exploitative sex with prostitutes in a disaster strewn country like haiti? well, let me talk about that, that's the second point of the question. the reason, you go in, you investigate. the first thing they did was talk to the country director. at that time he confessed to, well, his own behaviour at least,
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we were very concerned if i remember right that we thought there were more people in this and we wanted to make sure we could investigate and get all of that out which is why, because he'd already said, i'll resign, i'll go, that we said we would do that. and that took... what?! so your country director had admitted to exploitative sexual behaviour, predatory behaviour with young women, prostitutes, in a country he was meant to be helping and you just thought fine? no, of course not. you thought we'll let him go and you paid him an extra month. because we wanted him there because what we were afraid of was that there were more people there and we didn't immediately want that exposed and we wanted to make sure we could get in and also make sure there was not any bullying of the people. so you used somebody who was basically an offender to help you with the investigation? he was an offender because he had used prostitutes. he was a 68—year—old man using an 0xfam villa to invite young
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women to use for sex in a country that had just been through a devastating earthquake. what bit of that was normal or acceptable? it's not normal or acceptable, that's what we said at the time and i will say now. that was completely unacceptable which is why we did the investigation and why, out of nine people that were investigated... you literally carried on paying him... for one month. yeah, because you cut a deal with him. why would you cut a deal? because we wanted to make sure that we could get the whole lot of them dealt with and out of the way when it became clear there was a group of men who were doing this. do you know where he works now? do you know where the three others that were fired work? of course i wouldn't, i'm not in 0xfam, i haven't been in 0xfam for five years. he was 68, i doubt if he's worked at all, frankly. there were three others, we don't know where they are. we would never... well, they have gone and have to make their own lives, we would never give them any
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reference or anything whatsoever. hang on a second, we don't even know who those people are, they have not been identified. for all you know they could be working in another aid agency, they could be working with young women again or with children. what we did quite a lot at that time with all the agencies, and being clear, all the agencies, not in haiti only but in countries where there were emergencies, where there were conflicts, we were all working and working together to try to make sure that actually nobody that we knew was not responsible who had that sort of behaviour, would actually come into any other aid agencies. that had to be done. actually there are personnel issues... i'm confused. do you actually know where these people are now? i don't know... do you know that they're not working? i would not know because i've been out of oxfam for five years, you would have to ask somebody else that. but isn't it extraordinary that you knew about all of this for seven years and yet it has only come to light, the kind of allegations... no, not at all. as i said, we went in and we investigated fully. out of nine people that
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were investigated, only two were exonerated. you don't think there's any improper behaviour on the part of oxfam, just to clarify that? i don't think so. you may have done something different in the past but these are very difficult circumstances. what do you mean? what i mean is, we investigated... what i would expect an organisation to do is... as you know, these sorts of things are around in all sorts of parts of the world. what to expect the agency to do is to investigate fully and then to actually deal with those people and actually stop them working and get them out and all the rest of it. that, you know... get them out quietly, carry on paying them if need be, do a deal which is what we know about. no, no, no, we dismissed four of those as well out of that. do you know what, your mission statement is championing equal rights for women. absolutely. helping marginalised women claim their rights. yes, yes. so why wouldn't your first instinct be to say, this is shocking, we are rooting it out, we're telling the world that we've done this.
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we did do. as i said, we put out a press release about when the investigation went in... so you're saying nothing new, nothing new today, nothing new about the story at all? 0nly things that come in that we have no idea where they come from but at the time but at the time... do you think you treated your country director in the right way, letting him resign before he was fired, paying him off, yes, only for a month but still letting him do a deal on his own terms? i don't know, i might now, seven years later and with hindsight, do something different but at the time that seemed like the right thing to do to make sure that this whole thing got closed down as fast as we could possibly do it. was this the first time you ever heard of exploitative sexual behaviour going on at 0xfam? no. no, because, no, i can only think of one or two that come to mind but basically we had already agreed that any sign that anybody was doing this and there would be an investigation. that investigation was noted and went to our trustee board once a quarter. from 2011... but before that.
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before that you knew that there was sexual exploitative behaviour? sexual exploitation was going on, i can't say it is going on, was going on, we knew in a lot of places... with 0xfam staff. with some 0xfam staff who had been investigated over... i was there 12 years, i can think of probably one, formerly, that i know of that absolutely was dismissed. wouldn't it have been so simple to send out a really clear signal by getting your country director fired and investigated by police instead of allowing him to do a deal that might allow for more cases to come up? we took legal advice in haiti and it was made quite clear that the police would not be interested in this. thank you very much. thank you. dame barbara stocking. the government is reviewing its work for 0xfam in light of these allegations and in a statement, said it acknowledged hundreds of oxfam staff had done no wrong but added the way this appalling
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abuse of vulnerable people was dealt with raises serious questions that 0xfam must answer. there is more on their story in the times tomorrow. as you heard in that interview, dame barbara couldn't say for sure that the dismissed staff hadn't gone on to work for other aid organisations. the times has discovered that the man at the heart of the story — country director roland van hauwermeiren — did work elsewhere afterwards, in a senior role for a french charity at a project in bangladesh. the bosses of that organisation have even said they received positive references about mr van hauwermeiren from 0xfam. full details are in the times tomorrow. welljoining me now from nottingham is the mp andrew mitchell — he was the development secretary at the time of the problems 0xfam had in haiti. and with me in the studio is anthony stewart, chair of the haiti support group, which works to improve the life of people in haiti.
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i'll start with anthony, there is a lot to unpack from what dame barbara said, first of all that she was aware of cases of sexual exploitation by 0xfam staff, even before the 2011 allegations. was the way 0xfam behaved in 2011 with what they discovered the right one? when it comes to my reaction for the interview and the statements in 2011 and today, they are very keen on talking about something that happened in the past and they didn't particularly want to talk about again today. and they want to keep that in the past but in haiti there is a saying, the giver of the blow forgets but the bearer of the scars never does. i feel that to respond to these allegations by removing the people in question tends to highlight it as an isolated incident
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but it is not. we do not know for certain that there are other cases involved with 0xfam but what we do know is that in haiti and around the world there are multiple cases, too many cases, of exploitation, economic or sexual, in the aid organisation... not just 0xfam, right across the sector? i am, i am loathe to say that there must be more because we don't have the evidence. regarding 0xfam. but what i can say with this is the manner in which 0xfam have responded to it suggests, does not suggest a commitment to retain that the problem as a whole, rather they wished —— to rooting out the problem as a whole, rather they wished
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to leave this in haiti and in the past. for example, dame stocking's suggestion that they did not help the authorities... that suggests also a lack of respect for haiti and the rule of law in haiti. if she did not believe that the police would be able to act, if she saw a country in the middle of an earthquake and fundamental chaos. if she thought she did not want to put people off from giving, and the best way was to show the perpetrators out quietly, do you have any empathy or understanding of that way of acting for a charity to protect its main efforts? at this moment i would like to point out, as has been pointed out, a lot of work goes on by 0xfam and other charities is absolutely vital in places like haiti and elsewhere but in terms of those who did earnestly, be it the individual donor or states, would perhaps rather that charities such as 0xfam were honest
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and i think pushing it under the carpet suggests that there might be an unwillingness to look their responsibility in the face, and in cases such as in aid work... i'm going to stop you there to bring in andrew mitchell who has been listening patiently. that is the sense, shoving under the carpet and trying to make it go quiet rather than explaining what happened? this is a shudderingly awful tale, parable on every single level. —— terrible. and eclipse of the fact that oxfam is one of the most brilliant
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humanitarian organisations in the world. there are thousands and thousands of very brave people who work for oxfam who will be utterly distraught and horrified by these stories today, recently i was in yemen where oxfam as an organisation has probably kept alive 5000 desperate people. do you think dle is wrong in terms of whether money goes. they must be sure that there is zero tolerance for this sort of thing and certain there was public confidence that there is zero tolerance. it is important that dle carries out that task so it can say to the taxpayer and the public, we know this money is really well spent and the only way to do that is to ensure you have a totally transparent exercise now. were you ever made aware of this kind of sexual exploitation amongst charity workers, at 0xfam when you were secretary of state? i don't know whether i knew about this particular case, i can't be sure, but there
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were cases, particularly involving the united nations, where this sort of thing had happened. and in such cases i was always very concerned to ensure that the proper procedures were followed and that if the police needed to be called in, if there were regulatory issues, they were all thoroughly dealt with. on this particular case i cannot remember at this remove whether or not i knew about it. you don't recall specifically hearing 0xfam? no, i don't, but that doesn't mean it did not come up because there were, as i say, similar cases with united nations peacekeeping soldiers which was every bit as horrific because of the protection issues involved. and on those occasions i certainly did everything i could as a minister to ensure they were properly investigated and the people who had behaved badly were brought to account.
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you remembered the un, you would have remembered 0xfam or other british charities if they had come up? i think i probably would but i don't want to suggest in any way that oxfam hid it from the department or from me at that time. ijust can't remember and the point i want to make is that in this terrible tale we must not forget that oxfam is one of the most brilliant of the british ngos and charities which performed life—saving work all around the world in the most desperate places, utterly brilliantly. if taxpayers or donors, supporters of oxfam, are watching this tonight, they know that dle is reconsidering, what would you urge them to do or think? i would urge them to allow dfid to conduct its enquiries, to bring total transparency to this and to listen to what they said. i am certain that dle will discover that if there were serious shortcomings in 0xfam's approach,
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those have been properly dealt with and addressed so people can have confidence for the future work of oxfam but above all i would want to draw their attention to the utterly brilliant track record of the organisation in the past and not allow this terrible episode two: the brilliant work that oxfam is doing all around the world. thank you very much forjoining us. this programme has received some horrifying footage which suggests that a nerve agent, possibly sarin, has been used against civilians in rebel—held saraqib in north west syria. the short film, shot last sunday by hospital staff there, shows several people lying on the ground, some deeply traumatised and struggling to breathe. seven are later thought to have died, including four young children. the exact cause of their suffering has not yet been verified but the footage comes in a week
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when un investigators announced that they are looking into multiple reports that the syrian forces have used chlorine in attacks on at least two rebel—held towns. some chemical weapons experts believe there have been as many as ten such attacks. we should warn you that mike thomson's report contains extremely distressing and graphic images from the start. images we don't broadcast lightly but which those hospital staff wanted to be shown. british doctor david nott, who has worked extensively in syria during the current conflict, shows me a shocking video he has been sent by a doctor he helped train in rebel—held saraqib in idlib. the gruesome symptoms in front of us, filmed last sunday, seem to indicate some kind of highly toxic chemical attack. to try to find out more, we called the doctor at the hospital in saraqib who sent david mott the video. fearing reprisals against his family, he did not want to be filmed, but told me by phone
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about the symptoms he saw. vomiting. could they breath? they can't breath good. what do you think caused this? i don't know. what has happened to the children? we try to protect them but there is no comfort. most of them dead. the doctor went on to tell me that all the patients smelt strongly of chlorine but david nott believes there has to be something even more toxic involved, most probably a nerve agent such as sarin. a lot of these patients that we saw weren't breathing and with chlorine you tend to hyperventilate, you tend to try to breath and breath to try and cough up all this amount of fluid that is on the lung
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but here i didn't see that. i saw lots of patience in severe respiratory distress and also respiratory arrest as well and also cardiac arrest, which is not really seen in hyper chlorine attacks. —— lots of patients. in april last year, more than 80 people died in khan sheikhoun in a chemical attack using nerve agents. declaring that a red line had been crossed, us president donald trump ordered a strike on the syrian air force base which had launched the assault. to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. some now believe that chlorine may have been used in last week's attacks on saraqib to help avoid such retaliation by disguising the use of sarin. first of all, the sarin is used
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which does the real damage and then, seconds or minutes later, chlorine is dropped which masks the sarin. what the regime have found very successfully from their assault on aleppo in december 2016, is that if you put gas on the ground, that sinks into these cellars because it's heavier than air, it then forces the civilians, who don't have gas masks to protect them, up into the streets where they are then susceptible to bombs and bullets. surgeon david nott, who has worked in many different war zones, still finds it hard to watch the video he was sent by doctors in saraqib. to see young children dying in front of you with severe respiratory problems was really horrible to watch. there's people on all fronts who will say this is mocked up, this is not real, but i can guarantee you cannot fake a three—year—old child to lie on the floor and pretend that he's dying of respiratory failure. you cannot do that.
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the use of chemical weapons on saraqib has yet to be officially verified though the un says they have received many similar, credible—sounding claims from other doctors elsewhere in syria after a fortnight of intensive air strikes. but spokesman jan egeland says he doesn't doubt how much the people of syria are suffering. my heart is bleeding really for the civilian population i feel i failed. i think the un member states have failed. the international community has failed the syrian civilian population in their hour of greatest need but of course it's not too late to save those who have survived so far. maybe, but time is fast running out and many on the ground worry that
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even if the saraqib deaths are proved to have been caused by sarin, the outside world will continue to sit on its hands. mike thomson reporting on that footage that hospital staff sent into newsnight. punk rock music brought henry rollins to the world, but these days the former black flag and rollins band singer spends all his performance time talking, not singing. rollins hasn't fronted a band since about 2006, choosing instead spoken word performances. his latest tour is taking in every continent. so what does a punk of the past make of how those who come behind him are channelling their anger these days? and as a self—confessed rich, white and well—educated man, what has he got left to be angry about? we sent our in—house pet punk, john sweeney, to meet him. in my day, punks used to go around with safety pins through their noses gobbing at people. henry rollins was a classier kind of punk. here he is in his pomp.
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my name is henry rollins and this is off—road tattoo! he also ran at one point a mobile tattoo parlour. it didn't catch on. i caught up with him in london today. as an old school punk rocker, how do you feel about alt—right punks? i think, it'sjust my opinion, i see how easily a young person might be taken with an alt—right movement because it capitalises on anger, on hurt. the black guy looked at me and some guy pushed me in the schoolyard and i'm going to get back, and that's how they recruit. and i think these young people
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are easily manipulated. those who seduce them, they know how to work anger and ignorance and bring these people into the fold. is there an anger inside you? yeah. it gets worse as i get older, but i get better at finding places for it to go. what do you think of your president? he's perhaps the wrongest guy for thejob and only once in my life have i ever look at an american president and thought to myself, i could do a better job than this guy. let's imagine you are donald trump's national security adviser. trump calls you in to the oval office and says, henry, what are we going to do about north korea? you've been there.
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what's your advice? my advice would be, mr president, give me your phone. you're never going to tweet about north korea again. because what you think is tough talk is sure provocation by the time it gets to north korea and it's not the way to move forward. here's one thing my tours by kim, he was pretty impressive, for the first three days his english is like very much out of a book. so you are from california? i'm like, that's right, kim. it's like, i learned this in school. there's this one british guy who's offended i won't be in a photo and every time he comes near me i'm like, get away from me, because i just can't. so finally kim steps in front of me, his voice drops and in perfect english he says, how does he know you? and i realised that he had been playing me the whole time. kind of, you know, my english, it's not so good. his english was great. so i had to say i met him in the breakfast room, i think he likes me.
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the rocket goes up to space the other day. yeah, light relief. playing david bowie‘s music. yeah, how great, how classy. how did you meet david bowie? i've met david bowie one time. i just stood at attention and went completely still because i didn't want to bother him. he was like a rare bird, like shh, there he is, they come through once a year! and i'm like this is all i need, david bowie walked by me will be in my storybook for ever. david bowie is passing from right to my left and i'm just... he points at me and says ah! rollins! i go running towards him, my right arm coming out not knowing what i'll say
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when i arrive and i think isaid... he...he...huagh! i was all gooey inside because i'm quite a fan. i must have said, hello, david. he initiates this conversation like we had been talking for a few minutes, like it has already been pre—rolled. he said, you said something very interesting in an interview in a magazine last month and proceeded to quote me multiple paragraphs of paraphrasing me back to me. i'm a fan who gets recognised by other people. but i'm mainly a fan and so when i meet people i admire, like musicians and stuff, i have to be very careful to remain articulate. except all i want to do is... "god, your great!" because those records mean so much to me. i have leaned on those records so much. whenever i run into a member of the damned, i see captain sensible at some festival, it's like, hello henry.

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