Five years ago a small rural company in Lancashire (Bowland Brewery) was subjected to a disgraceful online hate campaign by gamekeepers and others from the game-shooting industry, simply because the brewery was supporting an RSPB hen harrier conservation project by donating profits from the sales of its Skydancer beer to the project. A promotional photograph of Chris Packham and Mark Avery enjoying the beer was apparently enough to enrage some gamekeepers to the point where they couldn’t control the urge to target the brewery with a torrent of online abuse and threats (see here).
This hate campaign back-fired somewhat after decent, ordinary people read about what was going on and turned out in their droves to buy the beer online and support the brewery (e.g. see comments here).
Five years later, you might have thought the gamekeepers would have moved on from such tactics, especially as they’ve been complaining a lot about the alleged online abuse they claim to be suffering (see here). You’d also think that now the police are paying close attention to the social media accounts of those applying for firearms and shotgun licences (e.g. see here), especially following the mass shooting / murders in Plymouth carried out by a licenced gun user earlier this year (see here), then maybe the more intemperate gamekeepers might have learnt some self control before hurling abuse and threats at people who just happen to hold a different opinion to them.
But no, apparently not.
This time the target of abuse is a small, rural company called East Coast Organics, who farm and then use electric vehicles to deliver their organic produce to customers within a 25 mile radius of the farm in East Lothian.
Last week, East Coast Organics posted this comment on their Facebook page in support of the forthcoming REVIVE coalition conference on grouse moor reform:
This simple, innocuous statement seems to have triggered the usual suspects in the gamekeeping /game-shooting world and the East Coast Organics Facebook page was flooded with abuse and threats by some pretty vile and stupid men and women who were being egged on by a particularly unpleasant narcissist from their community who has been at the centre of abuse and harassment campaigns for years.
Fortunately, East Coast Organics has reported those involved in the hate campaign to Facebook and many of the comments have now been removed. The more sinister trolls have also been reported to the police. A few fake reviews remain on the page but many have also now been removed.
Unlike Bowland Brewery, East Coast Organics doesn’t sell its produce nationwide, which is a shame. But if you live within 25 miles of their farm (check whether they deliver to your postcode here, includes much of Edinburgh) please consider showing them some solidarity and support by buying one of their fruit/veg boxes. You might also want to consider writing a supportive review on their Facebook page.
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon is a fan after a recent visit to the farm and will no doubt be horrified to learn about these latest attacks: