Village pub owners compared with London terrorist after animal activists find foie gras on the menu

Nicola Harley
Owners of The Bridge Inn in Calver, Derbyshire, and its customers say they have become victims of online trolling after 'activists' found out they served foie gras - Samantha McHattie/Guzelian

The owners of a village pub gave been compared with a London terrorist and bombarded with one-star reviews after animal right activists discovered they have foie gras on the menu.

David and Samantha McHattie, who run The Bridge Inn in Calver,in the Peak District, have been faced with a torrent of abusive and seen their business page plagued with over 190 one star reviews from people in the UK, Canada, United States, Germany and Argentina.

They were then blackmailed by a group of users who said they would delete their reviews if the couple took foie gras off the menu.

Customers who left positive reviews or disagreed with the "protestors" were also targeted with abusive messages.

"They are just trying to bully us and our customers," said Mrs McHattie, 35.

"I have had people post positive reviews who have then been abused directly to their personal profile. This has meant that the page has now gone viral and people from all over the world are now commenting from both sides. Activists have stolen photos of the children of those defending us and posted them on activists websites, as you can imagine this is a gross invasion of privacy and has lead to a lot of anger.

David and Samantha McHattie have been blackmailed by online 'activists' after nearly 200 one star reviews were posted. Credit: Samantha McHattie/Guzelian/Samantha McHattie/Guzelian

"One activist compared me to the terrorist involved in the recent London attack while one said any parent who feeds their child meat is as abusive as a parent who gives their child a cigarette. The majority of these activists are not even from the UK and never even been to the village, let alone the pub.

"I am all for democracy and campaigning for what you believe in but there is a certain way to go about it. All they are trying to do is blackmail us and expect us to roll over. We are doing nothing wrong. Foie gras is perfectly legal and we have plenty of customers who enjoy it. We source all our meat carefully and fervently believe practices on foie gras farms have improved greatly in recent years."

The couple reopened the refurbished The Bridge Inn in July, having purchased the pub in January last year.

Foie gras, which is classed as a luxury food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened, has been constantly on the menu with not a single complaint till a customer posted about it on Facebook.

Owners of The Bridge Inn in Calver, Derbyshire, and its customers say they have become victims of online trolling after 'activists' found out they served foie gras.  Credit: Facebook/ Guzelian

The customer praised the food on their page but said after she found foie gras on the menu, she would not be back.

The Bridge Inn replied to the message saying they appreciated the comments and hoped to see them return despite foie gras being on the menu.

It is believed the post was then shared on social media to a number of animal activist pages, resulting in the pub being targeted.

The McHattie's have since learned that they are not the only ones who have been targeted.

They found that pubs in Durham and in Nottingham both faced the same threat and were blackmailed into removing foie gras when they had dozens of one star reviews posted.

Although both relented to the request, the reviews were never removed.

They also said that other businesses have been left with no choice but to remove the whole review section from their pages.

Mr McHattie, 51, said: "You have to wonder who will be next, if we just give in, they will just move on to the next business. The tactics they employ are not only trying to damage businesses but could be causing huge stress for the people too.

"The abuse people rallying to support The Bridge have received is appalling and trolling personal pages of local community members has became typical. Our local people have been personally attacked, abused & threatened, we have an obligation to defend our communities and our own freedom of choice and defend against bullying and blackmail.

"We employ 20 plus staff and are a local pub for the village community. They have to realise that this type of behaviour is not acceptable no matter how passionately they hold their beliefs, there is a way of educating and engaging people, and this isn't it."

The couple previously offered to take foie gras off the menu if four of the activists apologised for "bullying and denounce future bullying campaigns".

According to the McHattie's, the offer was refused and the campaign against them and its customers continues.

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