Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/10/rpa_highjinx_report/

Four 'naked civil servants' fired by RPA

'There have been incidents involving faeces'

By Christopher Williams

Posted in Government, 10th August 2006 15:11 GMT

The inquiry into reports of shenanigans at the Rural Payments Agency has resulted in four staff being booted out of their Newcastle jobs. A further five have received written and verbal warnings.

The controversy was sparked by reports of staff vaulting filing cabinets nude, which the investigation said were derived from a prank where staff took photos of each other for a colleague's leaving present. It compared the incident to a "student rag week" gag.

Allegations that staff hid vomit in the office in order to fester was borne out by investigators, with four cups of sick confirmed. The report also reveals: "There have been incidents involving faeces, female sanitary products and mucus deposited."

The agency said it would be tightening vigilance and reminding staff of appropriate conduct.

Regarding a series of other charges of misconduct, a statement said: "The inquiry examined the facts compared with initial reports resulting from leaks and concluded there was no evidence of naked leaping from filing cabinets, sex in the toilets, drug taking at work, or breakdance competitions."

RPA chief executive Tony Cooper said: "Staff at Newcastle and RPA offices across the country are hard-working and dedicated to performing a very important job for the farming industry."

The adverse publicity came at a inauspicious time for the DEFRA agency, which was struggling to deliver EU subsidies, with a backlog numbering in the thousands.

A spokesman for the agency told The Register the situation had improved since then and the remaining of out-of-pocket farmers were still "a cause for concern". ®