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Orange has sacked 45 of its staff for looking at naughty pictures on the Net.

The mass dismissal is believed to be the biggest of its kind in Britain and covers employees in three locations: Darlington, Peterlee and Hertford.

A spokesman for the mobile phone company did not know if any executives were involved, or whether those dismissed were part of an organised group of porn lovers.

A statement issued by the company said: "Orange can confirm that a number of employees have been dismissed in accordance with company disciplinary proceedings, as a result of an investigation into the circulation of inappropriate material on company IT systems.

"Orange company policy states that the creation or exchange of messages or attachments that are offensive, harassing, obscene, racist, sexist, threatening or libellous is strictly prohibited.

"All Orange employees are aware that failure to comply with company email policy may result in disciplinary action including dismissal.

"Orange is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable working environment for all its employees," it said.

Last year Rolls Royce has sacked five people at its Bristol office for using its corporate network for sending "grossly offensive" hardcore porn. ®

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