INTERNATIONAL development minister Alasdair Allan has issued a written warning to Holyrood-backed aid agencies in the wake of the Oxfam scandal.

A letter demanding assurances about conduct has been sent to all non-governmental organisations (SGOs) carrying out overseas work with Scottish Government funding.

The overseas development pot stands at £10 million a year following an increase in 2017.

In the letter, Allan tells NGOs they must give fresh assurances over reports of "serious misconduct and sexual abuse" in the sector.

Aid giant Oxfam is the subject of an official inquiry over claims that it concealed the findings of a probe into claims that staff used prostitutes while responding to the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

The country's president Jovenel Moise called that a “basic violation of human decency” and almost 1300 regular donors have cancelled monthly payments in the light of this and further claims about potential abuse at the charity's UK shops and elsewhere.

The organisation's chief executive has quit and actress Minnie Driver has quit her ambassador role, while UK International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt is to meet with the National Crime Agency over the matter tomorrow after warnings that funding could be withdrawn.

In his letter, Allan, who took over the brief from Humza Yousaf two years ago, cites allegations of "serious misconduct and sexual abuse by staff working in the international development sector, specifically in relation to vulnerable groups".

He warns: "The Scottish Government expects the highest moral and ethical standards from those we fund to provide services to those people and communities who look to our support at their time of greatest need. We will not tolerate any form of human rights abuses or misconduct, wherever they take place.

"We expect our partner organisations wherever they are to monitor their work closely and to be open, honest and transparent with us, and the public whenever there are any suggestions of abuse or malpractice. Therefore, I am asking all international NGOs that the Scottish Government funds to confirm that you have robust safeguarding policies in place to protect vulnerable groups, and that if you have become aware of specific incidents, that they have been referred to the relevant authorities where necessary."

Allan also instructs organisations to report "any such incidents" to funding authorities, adding: "The vast majority of those working in international development and humanitarian emergencies do so in a diligent and appropriate manner.

"However, the Scottish Government will not hesitate to take appropriate action whenever we suspect that any abuse has occurred, and we expect the same commitment from those working with us."

The warning comes one month before officials announce the beneficiaries of the Small Grants Programme, which last year supported ten projects in four countries related to farming, digital skills training, the 3D printing of prosthetic limbs and more.

Speaking in Stockholm today, Mordaunt said the revelations about Oxfam – which received £31.7m in taxpayer funding last year – should be a "wake-up call" for the sector.

She said: "They let perpetrators go. They did not inform donors, their regulator or prosecuting authorities. It was not just the processes and procedures of that organisation that were lacking but moral leadership."

She continued: "No organisation is too big, or our work with them too complex, for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first.

"The culture that allowed this to happen needs to change now."