All of the Royal & Sunalliance (RSA) staff suspended during an investigation into the exchange of X-rated emails have returned to work.

RSA UK corporate communications head Paul Atkinson would not confirm how many staff were involved in the investigation, but it is believed that about 60 were suspended and 10 sacked from RSA's Liverpool and London offices.

The investigation started at the Liverpool office in mid-December, after a doctored image of Simpsons' cartoon character Bart Simpson was brought to the attention of RSA bosses by an email recipient outside the company. Further pornographic images, which were reported to have included a picture of Muppets characters Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog fornicating, were later uncovered.

Atkinson said the staff who kept their jobs had been suspended in stages as their part in the scandal was investigated.

“There was never a situation where all the people were sitting at home waiting to see what was going to happen,” he said.

Atkinson said most had received written warnings, but would not comment on industry speculation that some would be punished further by having their bonuses and pay rises frozen for three years. He added that no announcemnent on the future of any of the estimated ten dismissal cases would be made until their disciplinary appeals had been heard.