Civil servants at Newcastle's Rural Payments Agency (RPA) went out on a bender last night to celebrate their notoriety after the local paper revealed staff were caught on office CCTV leaping naked from filing cabinets.
Staff were pleased their antics made the front page of local newspaper The Evening Chronicle. Team members and managers from the DEFRA agency, which is in charge of paying out farmers' subsidies, were seen in the Toon enjoying a night of booze-fueled madness, The Register can reveal.
The RPA said yesterday one individual had been dismissed and investigations are ongoing following the allegations. As well as bare-back Parkour, staff are accused of play-fighting, conducting break dance-offs, sex and drug taking in toilets, and of a bizarre craze for hiding vomit-filled cups to be discovered only by their stench.
Sources said the "Cup a Sick" prank was played by angry and poorly paid contract workers sourced from outside the civil service.
The high-jinx came to light after disgusted employees blew the whistle to high-ranking officials. An internal memo said: "I'm appalled at the level of depravity that is being tolerated at my work place."
"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."
An RPA statement today said: "Action has been taken to strengthen RPA Newcastle with a senior manager drafted in to take charge while the investigation and series of disciplinary actions to resolve some instances of serious misconduct and behavioural problems there is concluded."
A further member of staff has been demoted and transferred, and a letter was sent to all staff on Friday "reminding them of their responsibilities".
National Farmer's Union communications director Andy Gibson said: "Given the real hardship caused to thousands of farmers by the seemingly endless delays to the implementation of the Government's new Single Payment Scheme, I'm sure farmers will be angry and disappointed to imagine how the RPA staff at the Newcastle office are spending their time."®
Following the revelations of starkers daredevilism within the ranks of low-level RPA employees, The Reg has obtained an email that has apparently been doing the rounds at said powerhouse of rural governance. It uncovers evidence of a malaise going back to at least last summer.
A manager noticed a "dodgy" comment added to an account by a frustrated temp, and decided to pull up the rest of her contribution to the agency for everyone's delectation:
31 August 2005
dude he was trying to part field suffix fields when its just not necessary! Not cool, man, he needs to sort that out, nobody likes a crazy farmer
14 August 2005
WELL, ON FIELD 0660, THE FARMER HAS TRIED TO CLAIM FOR NA1, NON AGRIG LAND WHICH IS WRONG WRONG WRONG! SILLY FARMER
17 August 2005
yeah crop codes wrong so will take several months to go through. good luck with that! hopefully i'll have left
18 August 2005
HELLO WELL THE PROBLEM HERE SEEMS TO BE THAT THE FARMER WAS SUFFERING FROM MALINGERING HEAD TRAUMA AND FILLED IN THE SAME FIELD TWICE! BLESS. UNDERSTANDABLE THOUGH AS THE FORM IS SO BORING REPETITION SEEMS A NATURAL, RIGHT REACTION
25 August 2005
part field suffix problem as fields named 'a' or 'b' but in unrelated field. could i be less bothered?
25 August 2005
YADA YADA YAH ALSO RING FARMER HE'S MENTAL!!HE'S TRYING TO ESTABLISH MORE THAN FILED SIZE WHAT A NUTTER!I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, CRAZY, UNHINGED MAN.
29 August 2005
ANSWERED NO TO THE MILK QUESTION THEN PUT ENTRY IN Q21. WE MUST ACCEPT THIER FIRST ANSWER,THEY,SADLY LOSE!
02 September 2005
twenty odd pages of fields needing completed, crop codes cannot have a value as non-food type. Apparently. Personally i'd just leave this till it goes away of its own accord. plan!
"Silly", "nutter", "unhinged", "crazy" and "malingering"? Given, as the sender notes, that the records these comments come from are open to freedom of information requests, we can imagine a nation of livid, penniless farmers will be writing in, and then loading their muck spreaders for a trip to Newcastle.