About last night (cc: the world)

By T.R. REID

The Washington Post

LONDON — Claire and Brad had a passionate date the other night. The next morning she sent him a note thanking him for a great evening.

Huge mistake.

As a thoroughly modern woman — she holds a PR job at a dotcom firm — Claire sent her racy note by e-mail. Her boyfriend, now known to all the London tabloids as "Brad the Cad," couldn’t resist forwarding the message to a few close mates. Naturally, they passed it along to others.

Almost instantly, poor Claire became the Monica Lewinsky of the digital world, with her indiscreet remarks forwarded around the world.

As of Sunday, barely a week after the date that started it all, Claire, 26, was in hiding, racing from house to house with the British media in hot pursuit. Brad, 27, and four of his co-workers at the London law firm Norton Rose were waiting to find out if they will be fired for "e-mail abuse." And everybody else who has ever sent a personal message by e-mail has learned a scary lesson about the immense speed and power of this new medium.

Because both Claire and Brad used their full names in the e-mail addresses, it was easy for the media to identify the two principals of this riveting click-and-tell romance. The British papers have run photos of both, along with pictures of their London apartments and the suburban family home where Claire reportedly first fled when her message started bouncing around the bit stream.

"She is horrified by all this," her mother told reporters at the door.

Meanwhile, a Web site has been created just to follow the twists and turns of the case. Visitors are urged to vote on whether Brad should be allowed to keep his job. As of Sunday, the ballots were running 2 to 1 against him.

Claire and Brad were already good friends when they went out together, according to media reports here. When Claire sent Brad that fateful e-mail, he was delighted at her praise of his sexual prowess. He appended a note of his own — "Now THAT’S a nice compliment from a lass, isn’t it?" — and forwarded it to some friends. The message passed onward and onward to readers worldwide, many of whom added their own commentary, tasteful or otherwise.

"His need for explicit boasting marks him out as a bigmouth, a braggart, a faintly untrustworthy fool," wrote Jenny McCartney in the Sunday Telegraph. "What (Brad) did was the electronic equivalent of boasting in the pub … but a pub tale does not usually arrive with a written affidavit from the woman in question."

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