Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/08/oz_cyberbrawl/

Oz email catfight secretaries walk plank

Missing ham sandwich provokes cyberbrawl

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 8th September 2005 10:45 GMT

Top Oz legal outfit Allens Arthur Robinson has been "rocked" by an email flame war provoked by a missing ham sandwich which has resulted in two secretaries being given their marching orders, news.com.au reports.

The rumpus kicked off last Thursday when Katrina Nugent dispatched this email to colleagues at the firm's Sydney office: "Yesterday I put my lunch in the fridge on level 19 which included a packet of ham, some cheese slices and two slices of bread which was going to be for my lunch today. Overnight it has gone missing and as I have no spare money to buy another lunch today, I would appreciate being reimbursed for it."

Melinda Bird responded by suggesting curtly that Nugent had left her victuals on a different floor, and the punch-up then kicked off in earnest. Nugent quickly taunted Bird for being blonde, provoking the reply: "Being a brunette doesn't mean you're smart, though."

An enraged Nugent now deployed the heavy artillery and broadsided: "Let's not get person [sic] Miss Can't Keep A Boyfriend."

At this point, the "Swire Effect" kicked in, as a workmate forwarded the entire exchange to pals at Westpac, Deloitte, Macquarie Bank and JP Morgan. Pretty soon, the whole of the Oz business world was enjoying the virtual scrap. As one suit put it: "This is magic. You can't script this sort of stuff."

Here's the bit you can script, though: Nugent and Bird were duly sacked for their efforts, and a hunt is underway for the culprit who released the material into the wild. An Allens Arthur Robinson spokesman confirmed that "anyone involved in passing on the e-mail would be disciplined", explaining: "Email is a business tool, not a personal messaging system - the use of it in this case was not in any way acceptable, nor is that the way we expect people to treat their work colleagues."

Hmmm. For her part, Melinda Bird is reported to be seeking legal advice. Her dad Gary said: "She's a very nice, quiet girl. It is just a silly girl thing that got out of control."

Back at Allens Arthur Robinson, meanwhile, the spokesman admitted he did not know whether Katrina Nugent's nosh had been nicked or not. We have no doubt the firm will instigate an exhaustive investigation to find the culprit and take the appropriate action. Hanging, most likely, or transportation to, er... ®