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Bureaucrats played whilst farmers went bust

[Tuesday 13 June 2006]

A top-level investigation has been launched into allegations of wild debauchery and sex during office hours at a branch of the already discredited Rural Payments Agency.

Scandal hits payments agency

It is claimed that whilst thousands of English farmers were facing bankruptcy because of late subsidy payments from the RPA, staff in the agency's Newcastle-upon-Tyne branch held outrageous parties during office hours which included staff jumping naked from filing cabinets or having sex and taking drugs in the lavatories.

The agency's chief executive and its political head, Lord Bach, have already been sacked because of the incompetence at the agency, which at one stage had failed to pay out £1.5 billion in single farm payments to English farmers.

Although those payments have now been speeded up, agricultural organisations claim that hundreds of farmers have been forced into bankruptcy by the delays.

Allegations that the staff were partying instead of trying to sort out the chaos - and claims that some of their antics have been captured on CCTV cameras - are another devastating blow to the agency as it tries to overcome its disastrous start as the body in charge of reforming the hated EU Common Agricultural Policy in England.

Farmers in Scotland and Wales have already been paid because officials there chose a far less complex system than the one adopted by the RPA.

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