An ex-senior council officer’s “abhorrent and deeply offensive” email wishing cancer upon and threatening to “incinerate” a colleague has been revealed.

Leyland Otter’s shocking message, which led to his sacking, came during his time working as a chief investment officer for Wirral Council.

In the email Mr Otter said he hoped his colleague – a since-retired fellow senior officer – was in the “primary stages of inoperable brain, bum hole and liver cancer”.

The profanity-filled message also added his hope that the officer’s “demise” would be “lingering and agonising which is no more than that deceitful, lying corrupt piece of s*** deserves.”

It added: “We will finish the f****** t*** off when we incinerate the **** on BONNYNIGHT!”

Following his sacking, which was upheld by the council after appeal, the case went to an employment tribunal – in which the judge sided with the local authority.

The tribunal report, published in November, said Mr Otter had sent the email to a friend referred to as "Mr H" – never intending the officer to see it.

Mr Otter sent it after being told the officer had cancelled a calendar appointment as he was unwell.

But Mr H then forwarded it to that officer – an individual Mr Otter had complained about in the past.

He was subsequently sacked for gross misconduct, but appealed – initially claiming it was unfair, a breach of contract, and he deserved a redundancy payment. He also said the email was “mimicry” of a 1960s comedy sketch.

The council upheld the decision, which led to a tribunal, heard in October last year in Liverpool, where Employment Judge Buzzard dismissed Mr Otter’s claims, saying that they were “not well founded”.

He ruled the council’s decision to be correct.

One of Mr Otter’s main grievances was that he had been told in June 2017 he was to be made redundant as part of a council restructure.

But Mr Otter, who had worked for the council since 1997, was unhappy about how the process was carried out, calling it a “sham” and a “dishonest, deceitful and ultra vires redundancy exercise.”


He also claimed there was a “personal vendetta” against him, with his sacking coming just a day before he was going to be made redundant. The judge said no evidence was produced to support the claims.

Mr Otter’s date of redundancy was set for February 7, but was dismissed following the disciplinary hearing the day before.

He argued that as he would have been entitled to redundancy pay the very next day, he deserved compensation.

But that was also dismissed by the judge because Mr Otter was “clearly” sacked in response to the email, and not made redundant.

According to the report, Mr Otter gave evidence to the tribunal that the language used in the email was mimicry of a 1960s comedy sketch by Dudley Moore and Peter Cook called "Derek and Clive."

He said it was something he and Mr H, a friend from school age, had enjoyed as a “private joke for many years.”

Mitigating, the report added: “The claimant contends that the email which he sent was clearly a joke and was so excessive and ludicrous in its nature that [the officer] could not have felt apprehensive on receipt of it.

"The claimant accepts that the email was offensive.

“The claimant submits that the email was sent privately by him to a third party and he had no part in the forwarding of that email to [the officer].”


But was told in the report that given his seniority it was “completely unacceptable” and that dismissal was “fully within the range of reasonable responses” for the council.

Responding to Mr Otter’s claim that he never intended for the officer to see the email, the report said: “The situation is the digital version of a private conversation being unintentionally overheard.

“It does not make a substantive difference that what was said was not intended to be overheard, once it has been overheard.”

Part of the letter sent to Mr Otter telling him of his sacking was also revealed in the documents.

In it, the dismissing officer said he “could not recall having read a more abusive and unacceptable email”.

It added: “The email is abhorrent and totally unacceptable, especially given it concerns a fellow colleague, never mind a senior officer of the council.”

The report said Wirral Council admitted there had been “some procedural flaws” with the disciplinary process but that the appeal, which upheld the decision, was “full and fair”.

The authority admitted at the tribunal the process had “ran slowly” but that was in large part due to Mr Otter delaying meetings due to health concerns.

When contacted for comment, a council spokesman said: “Mr Otter was dismissed from the council following a disciplinary investigation.

“As is his right, he chose to challenge this in court. Wirral Council welcomes the ruling of the tribunal, which vindicates our original decision.”