RUMOURS of Peter Gordon's death have been greatly exaggerated ­ by Swindon Council.

Mr Gordon was surprised to receive a letter from the council telling him that both he and his wife, Margaret, had died.

The couple received the letter on Wednesday addressed to the executors of Mrs Gordon advising them that a new council tax account had been opened for them.

It went on to ask Peter and Margaret for the exact dates when they had died.

Peter, 46, said: "When I read that my wife was dead I thought, that's funny, she looked fine when she went out of the door this morning!

"Anyway, don't you usually get a policeman coming to your door instead of a letter about your council tax?

"I was absolutely gobsmacked ­ I just couldn't believe what I was reading. I thought ­ is someone playing a prank on me or something?

"It's a very strange experience to be told you¹re dead."

Peter immediately telephoned the council and spoke to an operator.

"She said that she would pass it on to a colleague because she was going on holiday," Peter said.

"I thought ­ is that it? Is that all they're going to say? I want a proper apology for this ­ it's just not on."

But yesterday, instead of a letter of apology, another letter for the executors of Margaret Gordon dropped through the letterbox ­ this one informing them of a tax rebate. Mr Gordon said: "It's beyond a joke. The fact that this happened in the first place is bad enough but you would at least expect someone to say sorry.

"I don't want anything from the council. I just want them to accept that they've made a really stupid mistake."

A spokeswoman for Swindon Council said: "We apologise to Mr and Mrs Gordon for this situation, which is the result of a human administrative error.

"We have traced the calls which resulted in these letters being sent and the correct addressees will now be contacted. We will also be contacting Mr and Mrs Gordon to say sorry and explain how this unfortunate situation occurred."

Mr Gordon said he did not feel satisfied with the council's response.

He said: "I can understand them saying human error, but for both of us to be told we're dead is just ridiculous.

"I will be waiting with interest to see what response I get from them and how they¹re going to explain it."

But Mr Gordon hasn¹t lost his sense of humour over the issue.

He said: "I've told the man at the newsagents to stock a hundred extra copies of the Advertiser -­ not everyone is able to read about their own death in the paper."