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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 10:26 GMT
Ford workers 'accessed porn'
Computer screen
Firms are clamping down on net and e-mail misuse
Car giant Ford has suspended three workers at its biggest UK factory on suspicion of accessing pornographic material on the internet while at work.

The company launched an investigation at its Dagenham plant in Essex where managers became suspicious of the activities of some workers just before Christmas.

It is understood one of the suspended workers spent up to four hours a shift accessing the material.

It is the latest in a run of incidents in British industry involving internet use at work.

A Ford spokesman refused to confirm the details but said: "An investigation is being held into the unauthorised use of the computer system by a small number of employees at the engine plant in Dagenham.

"The investigation is expected to last for a number of weeks."

Lewd e-mails

Earlier this month insurance firm Royal and Sun Alliance in Liverpool sacked 10 members of staff and suspended 77 over the distribution of offensive e-mails, including a doctored picture of cartoon character Bart Simpson in a sexual clinch.

Last year mobile phone giant Orange sacked up to 40 workers after an internal investigation revealed they were downloading internet porn.

Six workers at Cable & Wireless were sacked for sending offensive e-mails.

The most controversial case involved a lawyer who recently forwarded a private e-mail from his girlfriend about a sex act.

In that instance, the five employees involved were disciplined but kept their jobs.

New government guidelines unveiled in October, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, gave companies the right to monitor their employees' e-mail.

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See also:

15 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Press send to censor
01 Sep 00 | UK
Sacked for downloading porn
12 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Criticism of net snooping bill grows
10 May 00 | Talking Point
Should your e-mails be screened at work?
03 May 00 | UK
E-mail: Our right to write?
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