THE email which led to the suspension of 14 Lancashire County Council staff is believed to have compared the Israeli occupation of Palestine to Nazi Germany.

It is understood to contain images from Nazi concentration camps alongside graphic pictures said to have come from Palestine.

The email is said to urge the reader to 'show the world the true face of this murderous state'.

On Monday, the Lancashire Telegraph exclusively revealed how county bosses had suspended the staff after launching an investigation.

The staff, who work in different departments across County Hall, were suspended on Thursday ahead of disciplinary proceedings and could be sacked if found guilty of gross misconduct.

One of the worker's suspended has told the Lancashire Telegraph of her shock at the action taken against her.

The worker, who declined to be named, said: "At the time of the Gaza conflict everyone was receiving emails left, right and centre.

"Yes, they shouldn't have been sent to my work email, but there was nothing in them that was racist.

"I am not a racist person. I only heard that it was racist when I read the paper and heard it on the news.

"There are a lot of people who we work with in my department who receive explicit emails and pictures which I may consider offensive but they have not been suspended.

"I was very, very shocked as I do not consider myself as a racist person.

"If it was a racist or offensive the computer system would have blocked the email and I would have denied me access to it.

"Emails with anything offensive on them never slip through the barrier at Lancashire County Council."

County Hall bosses have declined to reveal how the offensive content came to their attention.

All staff emails use a filter system which can detect offensive language.

The suspended staff could be sacked if found to have committed gross misconduct.

Some workers are being represented by Unison, the largest union at the council.

Regional rep Jim Moodie said: "We are aware that three or four of our members have been affected by this.

"We have said we will represent them with regard to any allegations but we are not aware of the specific details yet."

The police are not involved in the investigation.

In a letter sent to councillors, chief executive Ged Fitzgerald said the staff had been suspended for “inappropriate email use” and promised a “thorough and formal investigation”.

He warned members that “investigations of this nature may result in disciplinary action or in some cases termination of employment” and added: “I am sure you will understand the need for us to adopt a stringent approach to this issue.”

The suspensions were normal HR practice for such serious incidents, he added.

Council leader Hazel Harding said: “We have a code of conduct for anyone who uses our email systems and we take it very seriously.”

Les Parker, a Unite union rep, said: “I have been here for 40-odd years, and I have never seen anything like this number of people suspended in one go.

“Usually it’s one person or maybe two, never ever in the teens like this.

"For this to have happened it’s got to be serious.“

Labour county councillor Terry Burns, who represents Burnley North East, said: “We have a very strict policy on emails, and all the staff know about it.”

Lib Dem group leader David Whipp said: “I am concerned that something like this is happening with public employees.”

Lancashire Council of Mosques senior vice chairman Salim Mulla said his group had been in contact with County Hall relating to the suspensions.

He said: “I believe it was an exchange of views on the Israeli Palestine situation.

“Lancashire County Council should be sensible in dealing with these issues.

"In any organisation you get emails that do not relate to the job, and to suspend people for it sends out the wrong message.”