Bono: bullying allegations at charity made me furious

The singer Bono has apologised after claims were made that workers at a charity he co-founded were subjected to a culture of bullying and abuse.

The U2 singer, 57, said he was left furious after the allegations surfaced in November last year. He admitted the One organisation failed to protect some employees at its Johannesburg office and said: “I need to take some responsibility for that.”

The One campaign, created in 2004 to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases, launched an investigation after a group of former employees from its Johannesburg office tweeted allegations of management misconduct, claiming that some staff in Africa were “treated worse than dogs”.

The group told an internal inquiry into events between 2011 and 2015 that they were repeatedly ridiculed and belittled, and that a supervisor ordered them to do domestic work at her home at weekends. Another alleged she was demoted for refusing to become intimate with a foreign government official, after her manager made “sexist and suggestive comments” about her to him.

The allegations were revealed in a letter to members from Gayle Smith, who became One’s chief executive in March 2017. She said One had filed a serious incident report to the Charity Commission this month.

The inquiry found that a former official subjected junior employees to “verbal or email statements such as calling individuals ‘worthless’, ‘stupid’ and an ‘idiot’, at times doing so in front of third parties,” One said.

Smith said the campaign had not been able to corroborate the “appalling claims” that the female employee had been demoted for not becoming intimate with the foreign official, but added: “We do not discount any allegation – we investigate them and will continue to do so should others arise.”

Bono told the Mail on Sunday: “We are all deeply sorry. I hate bullying, can’t stand it. The poorest people in the poorest places being bullied by their circumstance is the reason we set up One. So to discover last November that there were serious and multiple allegations of bullying in our office in Johannesburg left me and the One board reeling and furious.”

Desmond Tutu resigns as Oxfam ambassador over ‘immorality’ claims

Archbishop ‘deeply disappointed’ by charity’s sex scandal, amid fresh turmoil as Oxfam admits it rehired worker previously sacked over misconduct in Haiti

Archbishop Desmond Tutu






Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he was ‘saddened by the impact of the allegations on the many thousands of good people who have supported Oxfam’s righteous work’.
Photograph: Gallo Images/Getty Images

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has resigned as an ambassador for Oxfam, saying he is “deeply disappointed” about the charity’s sex scandal.

The South African, who was regarded as a key figure in the anti-apartheid movement, has retired as a church leader but still continues to work with the Elders – a group of senior international figures.

Tutu said in a statement that he had decided to resign following allegations of “immorality and possible criminality” at Oxfam.

Tutu’s resignation came amid fresh turmoil at the charity, which admitted on Thursday that it had rehired one of the workers it had sacked in a sexual misconduct scandal in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.

In a statement, Tutu’s office said: “Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has supported Oxfam International’s good work for many years, most recently as one of its global ambassadors.

“The archbishop is deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possible criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity.

“He is also saddened by the impact of the allegations on the many thousands of good people who have supported Oxfam’s righteous work.”

His office added he had now written to the charity “to inform them of his retirement as a global ambassador”.

Tutu’s resignation over the scandal follows that of actor Minnie Driver, who gave up her own role as ambassador earlier this week.

Tutu’s decision came as the figure at the centre of the Oxfam scandal, the charity’s former country director for Haiti, denied some of the allegations against him in an open letter to a broadcaster in his native Belgium.

Roland van Hauwermeiren said in the letter he did not want to cast himself as a victim but feared that Oxfam, other aid workers and those they help would suffer from false accusations.

In the four-page letter, seen by Reuters, he accused an unnamed former employee of being the source of reports that have shaken the global humanitarian community and prompted Britain and the EU to review funding for Oxfam.

“I am not a saint. I am a man of flesh and blood and I have made mistakes (not easy to admit) and I am DEEPLY ASHAMED,” the 68-year-old former soldier wrote in Dutch to broadcaster VTM.

The atmosphere of chaos swirling around Oxfam also deepened as the organisation admitted a “serious error” in rehiring one of those accused of sexual misconduct as a consultant in Ethiopia.

The man was one of several staff who were sacked or resigned in 2011 over a string of lurid claims, including that they had used prostitutes while delivering aid to Haiti.

The agency said in a statement it had identified that “one of those dismissed by Oxfam as a result of the sexual misconduct case in Haiti” was “subsequently hired by Oxfam as a consultant in Ethiopia”.

Hiring the man “even in an emergency as a short-term consultant” was a “serious error and should never have happened”, it continued.

“We are still checking how this occurred but it further highlights that we need an organisation and sector-wide approach to the vetting and recruitment of both staff and consultants, especially in emergencies where there is pressure to fill posts quickly in order to help save lives.”

The charity is now checking whether there were “any issues” while the man was posted in Ethiopia.