WWF says sorry to Saudi Arabia over vandalism

Oxfam protesters at Bonn conference 31.5.10 Climate change protesters were out in force for for the Bonn conference

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Environmental group WWF has apologised to Saudi Arabia after one of its workers vandalised the country's nameplate at a climate conference.

The employee broke the plastic nameplate into two pieces, threw it into a toilet, took photographs of it and distributed the pictures.

The incident caused uproar at a UN conference in June in the German city of Bonn.

Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer, is often criticised by environmentalists.

WWF said that the employee, who was not named, had acted without the organisation's knowledge and that he no longer worked for them.

Director General Jim Leape said in a statement that it had "apologised unreservedly" to Saudi Arabia and the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

"The incident was completely unacceptable under the standards of the Convention and the standards of WWF," he said.

"The individual responsible has expressed deep remorse and apologised unreservedly for his actions. He is no longer working for WWF."

The UK-based aid charity Oxfam also said it had apologised to Saudi Arabia and the UNFCCC because one of its employees took part in a discussion that led to the incident and was in the room when it happened.

Executive directory Jeremy Hobbs said the act was "offensive, inexcusable and inappropriate".

He said the staff member had been suspended and was under investigation by the group.

The incident soured an already tense atmosphere during the 12-day UNFCCC talks.

The UNFCCC is organising another key climate conference in Bonn, beginning next Monday.

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