The Evening Chronicle in Newcastle has said "good old brand loyalty" secured it an exclusive about civil servants throwing themselves naked from the tops of filing cabinets.
A whistleblower approached the Chronicle with the story about staff in the Rural Payments Agency branch of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Newcastle who were said to have taken drugs, had sex in the toilet cubicles and even vomited in officials' cups.
Assistant editor Mick Smith said: "The whistleblower was a Chronicle reader, so it was a case of good old brand loyalty. They turned to us as their trusted friend.
"The allegations, to us, seemed completely ludicrous — but we put them straight to Defra and they went and confirmed them all, and told us there is a disciplinary action pending and an ongoing investigation."
When the revelations came to light on Monday, the Chronicle splashed the story under the headline "The naked civil servants", which was followed up by the national media.
The next day the paper carried a follow- up headlined "Anger over the uncivil servants".