Customs staff sacked in race probe
Seven Revenue and Customs staff have been sacked for racially abusing non-nationals who claimed child benefit, it has been revealed.
Two others quit when an investigation was launched earlier this year. All nine were based at an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) contact centre in Belfast.
It is understood they were accused of tampering with computer records, which meant a number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds living in various parts of the UK were paid less money than they were entitled to. All have now been fully imbursed.
The resignations and sackings of the nine men followed an internal investigation into allegations of racially-motivated conduct going back to the second half of last year.
Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax at HM Revenue and Customs, said the department operates a zero-tolerance policy on racial discrimination.
He said: "The vast majority of our people are entirely professional and one of the ways we support that professionalism is by taking decisive action against the tiny minority who let us all down by falling far short of those standards."
The HMRC contact centre is based at Dorchester House, close to the city centre in Belfast's Great Victoria Street.
The investigation started last January when a complaint was lodged by somebody who claimed that their records had been changed. A detailed audit was carried out and the inquiry then widened to take in another 16 cases.
It is understood the nine men were suspended once the investigation started, but two quit immediately.