Porno e-mail causes rumpus in Barclays office

Stockbroking division faced dilemma at prospect of staff sackings over e-mail abuse, Antony Savvas reports

Stockbroking division faced dilemma at prospect of staff sackings over e-mail abuse, Antony Savvas reports

About 50 staff at Barclays' Glasgow stockbroking division have escaped sacking after an investigation into allegations that hardcore pornography was being e-mailed around the business.

The Barclays problem is the first high-profile case of e-mail abuse which has not led to sackings. A company spokesman confirmed material had been sent to the company, which was distributed by some staff "probably as a joke".

Barclays started its investigation last month. But the spokesman revealed that, as a result, only warnings as to their future conduct had been given to an unspecified number of staff.

In addition, Barclays says it has boosted its e-mail filtering systems to stop "such rubbish" being received.

The spokesman said, "This may have been a joke for those involved, but for other people it could have been deeply offensive, and we take it seriously."

With so many allegedly involved, the bank could have been concerned that a stricter reaction to the problem, in the way of dismissals, could have had a commercially negative effect on its 700-strong Glasgow operation.

The Barclays problem follows several other high-profile e-mail abuse cases at the New York Times, Xerox, Kwik-Fit, and Rolls-Royce. In all four instances employees were sacked as a result.

Barclays says it already has in place a company policy which covers e-mail, and the case illustrates why companies should prepare themselves for future problems.

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