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Council sues UK's controversial landlord who banned 'coloured' tenants told staff to kill themselves

A council has sued Britain's most controversial landlord after he told staff to kill themselves as part of an nine-year 'campaign of harassment', a court heard.

Ashford Borough Council, in Kent, is applying to the High Court for a permanent injunction against multi-millionaire Fergus Wilson, 72, in a bid to bring an end to harassment it claims has been ongoing since 2011.

The court heard how legitimate inquiries by Mr Wilson would quickly turn to him repeatedly belittling, insulting and abusing councillors or council workers in an attempt to get his own way.

He has found found himself in the public eye numerous times over the last decade, notably in 2018 for butting heads online with comedian Danny Hyde and in 2017 when a court overturned his racist practice of banning 'coloured' tenants.

Fergus Wilson, pictured with his wife Judith, outside one of their buy-to-let properties in Ashford, Kent

Mr Wilson and wife Judith once owned the largest portfolio of properties in Kent - believed to be around 1,000.

In court this week, it was alleged Mr Wilson would send a huge number of letters and emails, and make phone calls and formal complaints against officers, councillors and legal representatives.

The council's representative Adam Solomon QC said Mr Wilson's behaviour had made workers feel harassed and intimidated, with some receiving emails from him on a daily basis.

Mr Solomon said: 'Officers, employees and councillors felt bullied and distressed, being unable to respond properly to allegations, some of them being reduced to tears.'

Council leader Gerry Clarkson reportedly received a large number of letters to his home address, one of which - amongst a large amount of profanity - told him to 'do all of the young people in Ashford a favour and commit suicide'.

A statement from Cllr Clarkson told the court: 'I've served the public for most of my adult life, and consider myself a robust person, and perhaps a certain degree of unpleasantness is to be expected in a public office.

'But this crossed any reasonable threshold, and has caused a significant amount of distress and alarm; it distressed my wife so much that she had to stop opening the post.

'[Applying for an injunction] is an unusual step for a local authority to take but we have no other option.'

Defending Mr Wilson, his representative Andrew Deakin argued that the communications the landlord sent out 'didn't cross the threshold of what would be considered harassment'.

He also said that councillors 'having taken elected office, accepts and takes on the very real potential that individuals will write and express abhorrent expressions' such as Cllr Clarkson experienced at the hands of Mr Wilson.

The court also heard that Mr Wilson subjected one of the council's legal representatives to a focused ordeal spanning years, much of which featured emails to her superiors, some of which were copied to as many as 44 people within the council.

These would often see him make derogatory references to her weight and general appearance, as well as stating that she was not qualified to practise law.

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