Well, good lord, the Great Claire Debate of 2000 (see: Is this the greatest ever email hoax?). We spent most of yesterday trying to get to the bottom of the whole affair while being continually bombarded with sightings, extra "info", outright lies and accusations of stupidity. You, the readers, provided us with just over 400 emails, 30 of whom claimed to be from Claire and five of which were useful. But thanks anyway.
The story so far - an email conversation, supposedly between one Bradley Chait, employee of London law firm Norton Rose, and Claire Swire, discussing their sex life, is forwarded round the world. Claire apparently thought Bradley's cum was 'yum'. He told the Reg it was all a hoax and he'd been set up.
This is what's happening now.
Formal disciplinary action was started against Bradley Chait yesterday by Norton Rose and will take a few days. He has been banned from talking to the media, so we can't ask him about it either.
We had a chat with the Norton Rose spokeswoman, Andrea Turrell, expressing sympathy for ole Bradley. She wasn't to be drawn, saying she had no personal feelings about the case, but did point out that the email has by now been all over the world with Norton Rose's name plastered over it. We can see how having a serious law firm connected with blow jobs is not ideal.
As for Claire: we know she is not happy about what has happened. We tracked down her employer, who's not happy either.
So, sadly, what was a frankly hilarious episode is now getting serious.
Somewhat ironically as well, The Times has run a feature today entitled "Warning: an email could seriously harm your career". In it, the head of graduate recruitment for KPMG, spells out the stance that has been the undoing of two, now infamous, people. "It is against our culture for staff to email any kind of abusive or pornographic material - Anyone breaking our code of conduct would be dealt with very seriously and may even lose their job," said Keith Dugdale.
So there you have it - be careful out there folks. Or simply refrain from discussing the full-bodied qualities of semen until you're down the pub.
BTW this whole affair has created enough stories for a small book, but two of our favourites are: the army officer in Kosovo who has used all his contacts and satellite phone to try to reach Claire, and the fact that several offices have sent (presumably graphic) Christmas cards to one Claire's address. It certainly sparked some form of creativity as men all over the country tried to locate their own "Claire" before the office party on Friday.
And finally Norton Rose have issued a press statement concerning email abuse. You can read it on its Web site. Could this be company be related to the Norton Rose that told the BBC that few companies spent any time telling employees what their obligations (on sending emails)are? We think we should be told. ®