Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt is confronted by protester during charity sex abuse speechÂ

International Development Secretary and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was confronted by a protester as she addressed a conference on sex abuse in the aid sector.

Thursday, 18th October 2018, 5:04 pm
Updated Friday, 19th October 2018, 4:02 am
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is Portsmouth North MP and Minister for Women and Equalities Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Alexia Pepper de Caires - a former whistleblower at Save the Children - walked onto the platform where Ms Mordaunt was speaking to complain that those leading the fight against abuse were being ignored.

'˜This platform is not for you today. It is for the people doing this,' she told the minister.

She said she was '˜disgusted' to learn Save the Children was to play a major role in the establishment of a new global system of criminal records checks for aid workers, even though it was still under investigation by the Charity Commission.

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Ms Mordaunt, who calmly listened to her, said she had been unaware of the concerns she raised, and offered to give up her second speaking slot at the end of the conference so she and her colleagues could address it.

Ms Pepper de Caires - who drew applause from the international audience at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London - was finally led from the stage by officials without further protest.

Afterwards she told the Press Association: '˜The signals were that a number of women who have been more radically vocal about what has been happening were not being reached out to.

'˜I thought all along that this conference needed to be more than just a shiny, glossy piece for the cameras and press to say all the right things are being done.

'˜It was dishonest, it is ineffective and it won't result in change.'

Ms Mordaunt said she was '˜very sorry' that some people had felt excluded from the event.

'˜The only thing I could do today to rectify that - because I think it is important that their voices are heard - is to give them a platform,' she told reporters.

'˜I personally didn't know of their concern until today. We will do everything we can to ensure that people are able to speak up, they are able to articulate their concerns.'

She said that Save the Children had not received any government funding in relation to the new global register, being established by the Department for International Development and Interpol, announced earlier this week.

'˜It is not the case that Save are getting funding from us,' she said.