An internal investigation at a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) contact centre in Belfast revealed shocking revelations involving nine staff implicated in racist tampering of benefits for ethnic minorities who were paid less than they were entitled.

The HMRC centre at Dorchester House, in Belfast’s Great Victoria Street was first investigated in January last year when a person complained that their records was changed. Nine HMRC  male staff members were suspended during the investigation and two resigned immediately. Following an audit the investigation widened to 16 cases; and the remaining seven staff was sacked for racially abusing non nationals and tampering with records which led to child benefit underpayments for ethnic minorities.

Patrick Yu, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), referred to the revelations as “pretty horrific.” (Daily Telegraph: 18 August 2010)

These revelations only came to light because a person complained that their records had been changed. What is quite disturbing is the fact that the nine staff members all worked in the same office.

The implications of the investigation questions if other public service employees are getting away with racially discriminating against ethnic minorities and the fact that the nine staff members would have got away with racist tampering if it were not for a person’s complaint is not encouraging.

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