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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 14:11 GMT
Smutty e-mailers keep their jobs
Offices of Norton Rose
The e-mail originated at London law firm Norton Rose
The five law firm employees who forwarded a revealing e-mail will keep their jobs.

London law firm Norton Rose said the group have been disciplined but not dismissed.

The five forwarded copies of a smutty e-mail sent by Claire Swire to her boyfriend, Bradley Chait.

Within hours it had spread from Norton Rose to other prestigious London law firms before making its way across the world as far as New Zealand.

As newspapers scrambled to report details of the salacious incident, the 26-year-old originator was forced to go to ground.

'Genuine regret'

In a statement to BBC News Online, Andrea Turrell, a spokeswoman for Norton Rose, said the disciplinary investigation, which began when the company became aware of the circumstances, had now been completed.

The employees concerned are horrified by the consequences and genuinely regret their actions.

Norton Rose spokeswoman

"Norton Rose has carefully and thoroughly considered all the evidence and the options available to us," she said.

"The situation is very sensitive and obviously, the issues are not straightforward.

"Naturally, we are disappointed in the behaviour of certain employees and concerned about a clear breach of Norton Rose's employment terms and conditions.

'Internal matter'

"This is an internal matter but to avoid speculation we would like to state that the employees have been disciplined but not dismissed.

"Dismissal was considered but not felt appropriate.

"The employees concerned are horrified by the consequences and genuinely regret their actions.

"The firm regrets any offence caused by these employees, who reacted to a private email originating outside the firm."

Right to appeal

The spokeswoman added that she could not reveal the nature of disciplinary action being taken against the lawyer and four trainees because they had a right to appeal against the decision.

The Financial Services Authority refused to confirm or deny reports that members of its staff had been suspended because they had forwarded the smutty e-mail.

Spokesman Rob McIvor said: "Only a handful of employees were involved and appropriate action has been taken."

Two months ago, Norton Rose spoke to BBC News Online about impending legislation allowing firms to monitor private staff e-mails.

Tim Russell, an employment lawyer with the company, said it would take a court case before it was clear what companies could and could not do under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Firms such as mobile phone giant Orange have sacked people for misusing internet access at work.

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