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Charity sector mourns slain MP

This news post is almost 8 years old

Third sector former colleagues have spoken of their shock and grief following the killing of campaigning MP Jo Cox

Charity leaders have spoken of their shock and grief following the killing of campaigning MP Jo Cox.

The 41-year-old held a variety of senior roles for Oxfam and also for the anti-slavery group the Freedom Fund.

A passionate advocate of refugee rights, she was gunned down and stabbed by a suspected right-wing extremist after holding a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire on Thursday.

The Labour MP worked at Oxfam between 2001 and 2009, serving as head of the group’s Brussels office, where she spearheaded its campaign for trade reform.

She was a diminutive pocket rocket. She was as a ball of energy, always smiling, full of new ideas, of idealism, of passion

In 2005 she joined Oxfam GB as head of advocacy and met her husband Brendan while working for the charity.

She was a passionate advocate on humanitarian issues including the conflicts in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo, leading her to become head of humanitarian campaigns for Oxfam International in New York in 2007 for two years.

Oxfam’s Max Lawson worked closely with her. He said: "Jo was a diminutive pocket rocket from the north. She was as a ball of energy, always smiling, full of new ideas, of idealism, of passion. She gave so much to Oxfam.

"She was an inspiring leader, really bringing the best out of all of us, always positive, always believing we could win, and always passionate for change. She was particularly brilliant at bringing huge energy to our campaigning around the desperate humanitarian crisis in Darfur."

Oxfam GB's chief executive, Mark Goldring, said: "Oxfam is proud of the role that Jo played in our work over a decade. Many of our colleagues remember her fondly. The rest of us followed her work with admiration. She never lost her passion for peace, justice and equality. Everyone is deeply shocked to hear the news. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Brendan and Jo's family at this difficult time."

Meanwhile, Nick Grono, chief executive of The Freedom Fund, said: “We are heartbroken to learn of the death of our former colleague, and my dear friend, Jo Cox.

“Jo was a powerful champion for the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised. She was one of those rare people who really did fight tirelessly to make the world a better place. And with it all, Jo was warm, funny, fearless, and effective.

“Jo was my first colleague at the Freedom Fund, joining our organisation in its startup weeks. In her time with us, Jo was instrumental in putting the Freedom Fund on a sound footing to successfully carry out its mission to fight modern slavery around the world.

“She left us to pursue her parliamentary career, and it’s simply incomprehensible that she lost her life while tirelessly serving her constituents.

“We are devastated for Jo’s husband, Brendan and their young children, Cuillin and Lejla. We will do everything we can to support them in the difficult times ahead.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn mentioned her charity work as he paid tribute. He said: "The whole of the Labour Party and Labour family – and indeed the whole country – will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox today.

"Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity. She worked both for Oxfam and the anti-slavery charity, the Freedom Fund, before she was elected last year as MP for Batley and Spen – where she was born and grew up.

"Jo was dedicated to getting us to live up to our promises to support the developing world and strengthen human rights - and she brought those values and principles with her when she became an MP."