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Countryside Alliance condemns vile social media abuse

The Countryside Alliance has condemned vile social media posts that were published on the "Ban Hunting with Dogs" Facebook page following the death of well-known show jumper, Sue Webb, earlier this month: Leading horsewoman is crushed to death after her mount falls and lands on top of her as they took part in a hunt . The social media posts were eventually taken down but only after a number of days. The tragic incident happened during a meet of the Mid Surrey Farmers Draghounds.

Last summer, Alliance Chairman, Simon Hart MP, spoke out against abuse that was directed at the late Bonnie Armitage and her family following the tragic death of the nine year old girl as she was following the Cotswold Hunt on her pony: Simon Hart MP on Bonnie Armitage and animal rights hypocrisy . In the latest edition of the Countryside Alliance magazine, Jim Barrington, Animal Welfare Consultant at the Alliance wrote about the growth in online "trolloing": "Anti-social face of social media"

The Alliance's statement follows a Parliamentary hearing that took place yesterday where MPs slammed social media giants Facebook and Twitter for not doing more to ban vile social media content: Facebook, Twitter and Google bosses slammed by MPs for failing to ban vile content . Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper said:

"We understand the challenges that you face and technology changes very fast, but you all have millions of users in the United Kingdom and you make billions of pounds from these users, (but) you all have a terrible reputation among users for dealing swiftly with content even against your own community standards."

The Alliance is currently compiling evidence of social media abuse that has been targeted at hunt supporters and will be writing to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

A spokesman for the Alliance, Tom Hunt said:

"We welcome the strong line that the Home Affairs Select Committee have taken on this issue. It is vital that the social media giants in question step up to the mark and ensure that they robustly tackle the chilling comments that are so often posted on their sites. We will be writing to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee to make her aware of the vile abuse that is routinely directed at hunt members and supporters of hunts."

Commenting on the specific case relating to the late Sue Webb, a spokesman for the Alliance said:

"Sue Webb was an incredibly popular and talented horsewoman who will be missed by her friends, family and associates in the equestrian world and beyond. The vile and insensitive comments that have been posted on social media since the events of last weekend unfolded are totally unacceptable.

"Sue was out draghunting on Saturday when this tragic accident occurred. Draghunting is largely an equestrian pursuit where the hounds follow an artificial scent that is laid over a pre-defined course and those on horseback then follow the hounds, usually over a jumping route. At no point have there been any allegations of illegal foxhunting taking place by a draghound pack, yet the internet trolls deem it acceptable to make revolting comments about the legal pastime that Sue chose to take part in.

"If this loss is not great enough for her family, at a time when they should be given time to grieve in peace, they are now being subjected to reading these revolting comments that are based on pure ignorance and prejudice. The type of person that thinks it is acceptable to post comments about somebody they do not know following such a tragedy should not be welcomed in a modern society and we call for the social media channels to respond respectfully by banning these users and bringing them to account."

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