IPC says sorry after e-mail lists staff facing axe

IPC Media chief executive Sly Bailey has apologised after a confidential e-mail listing proposed redundancies was accidentally sent to staff on the TV titles.

It contained a list of potential candidates for the axe, their salaries and the reasons why they should be "let go". The comments, in some cases, were said to be "extremely unflattering".

The e-mail was sent out to a random group of people, including journalists, on the TV titles.

"Whoever sent it must have pressed the wrong button," a source said. "The e-mail was marked ‘Urgent!’, so there was no chance of anyone not looking at it. Everyone was crowding round the screen."

IPC chiefs called in IT experts to wipe the e-mail and circulated a hand-delivered letter to relevant staff the next day, urging them to "treat the contents of the e-mail as entirely confidential" and to "destroy any copies".

The letter, signed by Bailey, said: "The company is extremely concerned by this e-mail, not only because of the personal nature of the information, but more importantly because it was unauthorised, factually incorrect and represents unacceptable practice within the company.

"I want to assure you that neither the board nor I had seen this document and in no way approve of its existence. Measures will be taken to ensure that this does not happen again and the individual(s) responsible will be dealt with in the appropriate manner.

"We recognise that it will have caused hurt and concerns about the future in some parts of the business. This is deeply regrettable and we apologise to those affected."

The move has sparked fears among staff that there could be similar lists lurking in other departments.

"The e-mail is not the problem; it’s the hidden agenda," a source told Press Gazette. "It raised the question, does everyone have a list and who is on it? This has really let the cat out of the bag."

An NUJ official said: "Most staff believe IPC’s uncustomarily speedy response had much more to do with the fear of legal action under the Data Protection Act than any real concern over the hurt feelings of those named."

By Ruth Addicott

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