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Insurance company Royal & SunAlliance has suspended 41 staff for distributing "lewd" Bart Simpson cartoons.

The decision to suspend staff was taken after an internal investigation - sparked by the receipt of an email featuring the offending Simpson attachment by one of the company's directors. The company has rolled out the usual line of "strict policies concerning the use of technology". The staff comes from a range of different departments at the company.

According to media reports, the email consisted of a "doctored" picture of Bart Simpson, but the company wouldn't comment further. "Doctored" covers a multitude of sins. Could a doctored pic include animated gifs of, say, Bart and Lisa playing with one another? Because that's one of the three that we at The Reg have received.

Are they really that offensive? Not really, and you will note that the staff were not sacked but suspended. You can expect a lot more of this as companies freak over what has happened to Bradley Chait, a lawyer at London legal firm Norton Rose, who's being disciplined after a private email conversation he'd had with his girlfriend Claire Swire was circulated round the world, thanks to him. The idea is to make an example of staff and get them out the habit of forwarding amusing emails. And, to be frank, you can't blame them. ®

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