Kettering call centre implicated in alleged £8m MOD scam

A call centre in Kettering has been implicated in an alleged BT scam which might have cost the Ministry of Defence £8million.

It was claimed that workers at BT centres, including one at Kettering, which handle MoD telephone calls had been making false calls to meet targets.

The allegation emerged at an employment tribunal where one of five workers sacked for her part in the scam lost her claim for unfair dismissal.

The hearing heard the alleged fiddle might have cost the tax-payer up to 8 million while BT saved itself a further 2 million in penalty payments which could have been made.

Four BT call centres, at Wakefield, Dumbarton, Kettering and St Helens, handled MoD calls from British bases abroad to the UK.

The MoD paid for all the calls but if the centres failed to answer them within a certain time limit, BT had to pay a 30,000 monthly penalty to the Ministry.

Staff bonuses also depended on the targets being met so, it was claimed, the workers racked up calls by ringing each other.

BT denies any allegation that it or its staff defrauded the MoD, and the claimant, St Helens call centre manager Anne McHugh, 28, lost her case.

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement after the case: "The artificial inflation of the number of successful calls made by the Defence Fixed Telecommunication Service in order to achieve the controlled Percentage Call Answered target, has been subject of a thorough and wide ranging investigation.

"The MoD and BT are now in the final stages of a full and detailed review of the scale and value of the reparation payments - these payments will cover not only the specific financial losses incurred, but also the costs to the department of the time and detailed work involved in this protracted investigation."