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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Probe over 'naked civil servants'
Civil servants on Tyneside are under investigation amid allegations staff romped around naked in offices and had sex in toilets.

One person at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in Newcastle has been sacked after officials began an investigation.

The antics emerged after some members of staff were caught on CCTV cameras.

The RPA is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and administers millions of pounds in agricultural payments to farmers.

The agency said it was investigating claims that staff leapt naked from filing cabinets, had sex in office toilets, held break-dancing competitions during working hours and fought in a reception area.

'High standards'

An RPA spokesman said: "Allegations of serious misconduct by some agency and permanent staff at our Newcastle office is the subject of an ongoing internal investigation.

"Disciplinary action and a dismissal have already taken place and further action is pending.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while these investigations and disciplinary actions are continuing."

Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Jim Paice, said: "This kind of behaviour is unacceptable in any office, but in a public service where they should have been processing long overdue payments for thousands of farmers it raises even more questions about managerial competence within the RPA."

The RPA was set up in 2001 and is responsible for paying subsidies to farmers under the European Union's common agricultural policy.

The agency's website said its mission was "to be a customer focused organisation delivering high quality services, including processing payments and receipts, conducting inspections and recording animal identification, to government and the rural community."

The RPA spokesman added: "The Rural Payments Agency expects high standards from its staff, who have very important and responsible jobs to do for the farming industry, and will not tolerate breaches such as those described."




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