A Jobcentre worker has been suspended after messages sent from her Facebook account told an unemployed father-of-three to ‘start paying taxes or hang yourself’.
In comments posted from the account belonging to Jobcentre official Dawn-Marie Sanders, Scott Bignell was told he was ‘a drain on society and take up too much oxygen’.
The Department for Work and Pensions, which oversees the Jobcentre, said is had suspended a member of its staff while the Facebook exchange was investigated.
The alleged discussion had been started by a mutual friend of the pair after an episode of controversial Channel 4 series Benefits Street, which follows the lives of benefit claimants living in a street in Birmingham.
In the expletive-ridden post which was later circulated on the internet, messages from Mrs Sanders’s account stated: ‘Do us all a favour and hang yourself. I have rope… no cost, it’s free for you.’
Mrs Sanders, of Farnborough, Hampshire, has claimed her account was hacked, and that she had not sent the messages.
Mr Bignell, 44, a former handy man from Plymouth, Devon, responded and said that he did not claim any benefits, telling the newspaper that there were others in ‘genuine need’.
A DWP spokesman said that a member of staff, which it would not confirm was Mrs Sanders, had been suspended following the claims, and that it was investigating the Facebook exchange as well as claims the staff member had been hacked.
‘We take allegations of this nature very seriously and we are investigating,’ said the spokesman.
‘A member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome.
‘An investigation by the DWP has been launched to look into whether there has been a breach of the DWP Electronic Media Policy or whether the account had been hacked.’
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Her Facebook profile has since been removed.