By Paul Stokes
Staff at a government agency office have been reported leaping naked from filing cabinets and carrying out stomach-churning pranks.
Civil servants are said to have had sex in the lavatories, taken drugs, used foul language, brawled in the reception area and held break-dancing contests in working hours.
Some of the goings-on at the Rural Payments Agency, a branch of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in Lancaster House, Newcastle upon Tyne, are believed to have been captured on CCTV.
One person has already been dismissed and disciplinary proceedings against others are under way.
An investigation was begun after an internal memo was sent to managers by staff sickened by the behaviour.
It stated: “I’m appalled at the level of depravity that is being tolerated at my work place.” The authors refer to “sick, shocking and obscene behaviour” and identify specific problems.
They wrote: “We have particular concerns about the activities that have been going on and which have been photographed.
“Although the staff obviously feels it is a great laugh, by anyone’s standards in the workplace setting this represents misconduct and may not be allowed to go unchallenged.
“Activities have been captured on official cameras. Specifically ‘these activities’ refers to leaping from cabinet to cabinet in underwear and believe it or not – but the evidence exists – naked.
“There is an horrific new craze of vomiting into official cups and leaving the cups to fester in cupboards until discovered through the horrendous smell. There is a list of shocking and awful acts in work time including sex in the toilets, drug-taking and swearing is rife.”
The Rural Payments Agency is responsible for allocating funds in rural areas, conducting inspections and livestock tracing.
An RPA spokesman said: “Allegations of serious misconduct by some agency and permanent staff at our Newcastle office are the subject of an ongoing internal investigation.
“Disciplinary action and a dismissal have already taken place and further action is pending.”
He added: “RPA expects high standards of its staff, who have very important and responsible jobs to do for the farming industry, and will not tolerate breaches such as those described.”
Last month Lord Bach was moved from his post as farms minister after a week in office because of the Rural Payments Agency’s failure to pay £1.5 billion of European subsidies on time to English farmers and landowners.
The fiasco has pushed many farmers to the brink of bankruptcy.