Four members of staff have been dismissed and five others disciplined for inappropriate behaviour, even though an internal investigation in to allegations of staff misbehaviour at the Newcastle office of the Rural Payments Agency concluded that many of the accusations to be untrue. 

The investigation found there to be no evidence of the lurid and inappropriate acts first reported in June. 

It concluded that the alleged incident suggesting staff leapt naked from filing cabinets was in fact a handful of staff taking some prank photographs of each other for a colleagues leaving present. 

In the report to the RPA this was described as the kind of activity seen in a student rag week.  Those concerned have been disciplined.

However, the investigation identified a number of behavioural issues that, although isolated, were cause for concern.

“There were four incidents of vomit found in cups – although no individuals were identified as responsible for this, checks have been stepped up around tea points,” said the report.

In total the action taken consists of:

• Four members of staff dismissed
• Five people disciplined with a combination of verbal and written warnings
• Management procedures, protocols and vigilance have been enhanced
• Letters and briefings have been issued to all staff as a reminder of the code of conduct relating  to appropriate behaviour
• Planned action going forward includes improved security

RPA Chief Executive Tony Cooper said he was satisfied that the correct actions have been taken to deal with the misbehaviour of the small number of individuals involved.

“While the investigation made clear many of the initial reports were overblown, there have been incidents of misbehaviour that are simply unacceptable in this organisation. We have taken this matter very seriously and the action taken as a result of the investigation draws a firm line under all this.

“Staff at Newcastle and RPA offices across the country are hard-working and dedicated to performing a very important job for the farming industry. We are focusing all our efforts on paying subsidies to farmers and other crucial work across a range of programmes.”