An employee with Eagle Star in Dublin has been awarded €6,000 (£4,132) compensation for unfair dismissal after he was sacked for allegedly sending "sexist, abusive and intimidating emails".

An Irish Employment Appeals Tribunal ruled that the action taken against Declan McAndrew, one of four sacked by the company, was "disproportionate to the offence".

Company executives had testified that he was "the main man" behind a group of staff styling themselves The Legends, who were responsible for the emails.

One executive described the messages as "sexist, abusive, intimidating and disloyal to the company".

When they were discovered, four staff members, including McAndrew, had been dismissed and four others had their salaries frozen and were given a final warning.

But in cross-examination the executive accepted McAndrew did not write the emails he regarded as abusive and sexist.

McAndrew told the tribunal that The Legends had started as "a joke in the pub that extended to the office", and that at one stage as many as 30 to 40 people were on the email list.

Asked about an email referring to "management we detest and workers we spit on", he said it was intended as a joke.

He was shocked that the affair had become such a major issue and "devastated when I got a letter of dismissal", he added.

As Insurance Times went to press, Eagle Star was unavailable for comment.