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Lawyers behind intimate e-mail chain letter keep jobs


December 21, 2000

LONDON, Dec 22 (AFP) - Young British lawyers who leaked a friend's intimate e-mail and watched with horror as it snowballed around the world will not be fired, their employer said late Thursday.

International legal firm Norton Rose said in a statement that it had "disciplined but not dismissed" the five lawyers who set the saucy e-mail snowballing around the globe at a furious pace.

Apart from embarrassing the woman who sent the confidential e-mail to her boyfriend in the first place, the incident underlined the breathtaking speed at which information spreads in cyberspace. Norton Rose said its five employees who were involved had been "horrified" at the consequences of their action.

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

It added: "Dismissal was considered but not felt appropriate."

The extraordinary e-mail began its life modestly enough on Thursday, December 7, when Claire Swire, 26, sent an electronic message to Norton Rose employee Bradley Chait.

In it, she recounted in graphic detail an oral sex session that the two had shared.

Minutes later Chait forwarded their correspondence to six friends with the words: "Now that's a nice compliment from a lass isn't it?"

Three minutes after that, one of the recipients started sending the e-mail to more people, saying that it "beggared belief" and he felt "honour bound" to forward it to his friends.

Growing at a furious electronic pace, the e-mail soon reached employees at several top firms and in the media. Forwarding her e-mail, one commented: "I know this is mean but very funny. Poor girl."

A British newspaper tracked down the mortified Swire to her parents' home near London. She refused to comment.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved


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