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UK Firm Sacks Workers Over Lewd Bart Simpson Email

January 5, 2001

LONDON (Reuters) - A British trade union said on Friday a leading UK insurance firm had overreacted in sacking and suspending workers caught forwarding lewd e-mail pictures.

Media reports said the Royal and Sun Alliance had sacked 10 people and suspended 77 others after a client complained of receiving offensive e-mail images, including pictures of cartoon character Bart Simpson in a sexual clinch.

``We do not condone lewd or rude e-mails,'' a spokesman for the MSF union -- which is representing the dismissed workers -- said. ``But from the information we have we feel the company has overreacted in the speed and the severity of the punishment.''

A spokesman for the firm said the e-mails contained more than sexual images of Bart Simpson and television puppet show star Kermit the Frog.

``Reports that this was just Bart Simpson imagery were wide of the mark,'' the spokesman said. ``When we peeled back the layers some of the material that was bandied about was of a far more gratuitous and offensive nature.''

Guidelines on e-mail and Internet use within the firm had been in place since June, he said, and employees were fully aware of the risk.

``We said at the time we would vigorously enforce this policy and unfortunately now we have had to do that,'' the spokesman said. The firm is carrying out an internal investigation.

The news followed a series of well publicized e-mail misdemeanors in top UK firms.

© 2001, Reuters News Service


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