Simon HartCountryside Alliance Chairman Simon Hart MP writes: Many of you will have read the recent story of Bonnie Armitage, a nine year old girl who died last weekend whilst following the Cotswold Hunt. Despite wearing all the right kit, and the strenuous efforts of the emergency services, the kick she received from another horse proved fatal. The incredible bravery and good grace of her family have been the warmest tribute she could have ever wished for.

Why am I repeating this? It seems that the media coverage of this tragic accident has triggered something which should concern us all. The social media reaction to the incident has included a steady stream of vile online bullying and abuse – too disgusting to repeat here – directed at Bonnie, her parents and pretty well anyone associated with her. The heartless trolls responsible for this abuse do so because Bonnie was following a hunt – it’s as simple as that.

The irony of the fact that traditional hunting was banned before Bonnie was even born appears lost on them. The fact that they never miss a chance to lecture the rest of the nation on its lack of “compassion” when it comes to animals does not seem to them remotely hypocritical as they pen their abuse of a mourning family.

Presumably these people have sons or daughters, cousins, friends and relations, some of whom may ride a bike, get on a surf board, dive into the sea, or even ride a horse. Presumably they protect them as best as they can, but recognise that whilst risk can be managed it cannot be removed. So how would they react to bullying of this nature should a similar tragedy visit them?

Over the years, I’ve heard of a few deaths in the hunting field. Twenty years ago the views of these revolting animal rights trolls would never have been heard, but social media has provided a platform and outlet for their extraordinary assertion that those who have died whilst partaking in a legal activity (whoever distasteful some may find that) somehow deserved it.

Perhaps we should be thankful though to be reminded what the nastier end of the animal rights community is really like, that it doesn’t care a jot about animals but is driven by a perverse hatred of fellow citizens which knows no bounds.