A COLLEGE dean in the midst of a lengthy dispute was allegedly likened to Hitler during a plot to oust him.

The Very Rev Prof Martyn Percy was reinstated as the Dean of Christ Church last year, after a period of suspension.

A High Court judge rejected claims that Prof Percy was guilty of improper conduct, following a private hearing, and he is now set to turn the tables and take the college to an employment tribunal.

Leaked emails were quoted in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, apparently circulated between a group of academics who wanted Prof Percy gone.

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One of those involved allegedly referred to him as 'little Hitler', while another email reportedly said: "[Think of] the Inspector Morse episode we could make when his wrinkly withered little body' is found in the Thames."

One unnamed author was said to have written: 'I'm always ready to think the worst of him [Percy]. Does anyone know any good poisoners?"

Following the national news reports, the Bishop of Oxford issued a statement yesterday in defence of his colleague.

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft said: "Martyn is a close and valued colleague, widely respected across the Diocese of Oxford and the wider Church.

"What happens next is for the employment tribunal to determine, but it is never too late to begin a process of reconciliation.

"This will require acknowledgement of responsibility, and also transparency on all sides.

"Recent events, while painful, are but a moment in the lifetime of this historic and unique dual foundation which contributes so much to the University and to the Diocese of Oxford."

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Prof Percy tweeted expressing that he was 'grateful' for the bishop's words.

Christ Church confirmed that it has received two employment tribunal claims from the dean.

It admitted in a statement: "Frustrations conveyed about – but not to – the Dean, exacerbated by a dispute over his pay, were in the past expressed in some private emails.

"However, mediation with the Dean, funded by Christ Church, resumed in November 2019 and is now ongoing.

"We very much hope that we can find a way forward through this process, and avoid considerable further cost."

The statement added that the college 'deeply regrets' that 'personal relationships have undoubtedly suffered' as a result of the dispute.

It continued: "We are all too conscious that a disagreement over pay and remuneration with the Dean has led, over the last two years, to significantly heightened tensions between him and governing body.

"We take our responsibilities towards all members of our community very seriously, and believe that we have acted in the best interests of Christ Church, including its students and staff."