Brendan Cox, husband of MP Jo Cox who was murdered in her constituency in 2016, has stepped down from his role at a charity that was set up after her death, after allegations of sexual assault were made public over the weekend.
Cox has resigned from his trustee role at the Jo Cox Foundation, and from his role as director at More in Common, which is connected to the charity.
He had denied assaulting a woman in her 30s at Harvard University in 2015, but has said his behaviour had been at times “inappropriate”.
At the time Cox had been working for Save the Children. The charity confirmed that Cox was suspended and a disciplinary process had begun, but that he has resigned before it was completed.
In a statement on Twitter, Cox said: “Last week I decided to step down from my public roles to face up to mistakes I made several years ago while at Save the Children. I apologise to people I offended or upset at the time. My actions were never malicious but they were at times inappropriate.
“I take responsibility for my actions and will hold myself to a higher standard in the future.”
Save the Children confirmed the suspension and resignation in a statement. It went on to say: “We are though never complacent and appreciate that best safeguarding and human resource practice is always evolving. Like others in the charity sector, we are now looking again at our processes for handling complaints. It is vital that our hard-working staff, our beneficiaries and those who work with us are safe and can speak out without fear if they have any concerns.”
The statement added that the charity’s chief executive, Kevin Watkins, told UK staff that he would show “zero tolerance” of any disrespectful behaviour. Watkins joined Save the Children in 2016.
It said: “Mr Watkins has ordered a review to establish whether the system for dealing with complaints about behaviour in the workplace can be further improved. This will involve staff, trustees and external independent professionals, and will report to Mr Watkins directly.”
The Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up following the MPs death, said in a statement that its board had accepted Brendan Cox’s resignation as a trustee.
It said: “Since establishing the Jo Cox Foundation, the trustees and staff have admired the integrity, commitment and dedication that Brendan has shown in our work to create a positive legacy for Jo.
“The Jo Cox Foundation was established in September 2016 to channel the energy and determination generated by Jo's life and murder into practical efforts to advance the causes she championed. The trustees and staff remain committed to continuing this important work and honouring Jo’s life.”
In a subsequent statement, Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater said: “As a family we will support Brendan as he endeavours to do the right thing by admitting mistakes he may have made in the past, and we respect him for doing so. We all make mistakes. Brendan is a wonderful father and I have no doubt about the happiness he brought to Jo.”
World Vision denies staff sexually assaulted Haiti survivors
World Vision has denied allegations its staff coerced Haiti earthquake survivors for sex.
The charity has criticised an article that appeared in the Mail on Sunday over the weekend which said the charity had admitted its workers traded food and money for sex. World Vision said that the article “mispresents our actions and omits key findings” from an internal investigation run by the charity.
The article said: "Desperate survivors of the disaster were forced by paid employees of World Vision – which received £17m from the UK government last year – to have sex or pay money for World Food Programme aid."
The charity has confirmed that in its cash-for-work programme in 2010/11, several evaluations conducted by World Vision and its partners highlighted a “a number of issues in government-run camps; of nepotism, sexual exploitation and inaccurate record-keeping”.
However, the aid charity’s statement said: “World Vision’s extensive investigations into these issues revealed that those involved in sexual exploitation were not World Vision staff. They were community volunteers and cash-for-work beneficiaries themselves.”
It said the article “misrepresents our actions and omits key findings from our investigations, which we described publicly, and which were shared with authorities, donors, and the Mail’s journalist, several years ago”.
The statement added: “We recognise that it is possible there may have been inappropriate behaviour by people employed by or associated with World Vision that went unreported.”
It encouraged anyone who had seen or experienced sexual abuse to come forward, or report it through its confidential whistleblower hotline. It added: “We are sorry to anyone who feels let down by World Vision in any failure of ours to protect or report.”