A member of an animal rights group has said activists will continue to put pressure on a Derbyshire restaurant serving foie gras until its owners agree to remove the controversial dish from its menu.
Activists gathered outside Calver Bridge’s Bridge Inn restaurant on Easter Sunday in protest at the restaurateurs’ decision to continue serving foie gras following heated exchanges on Facebook between animal rights advocates and the owners of the Bridge Inn and its loyal customers.
Bridge Inn owners Owners David and Samantha McHattie and several customers have accused protesters of a Facebook bullying campaign during which some 175 bad reviews were left on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
The McHatties had offered to take the controversial dish off the menu in exchange for apologies for what they perceived as internet bullying. But when protestors refused to apologise the McHatties said foie gras would remain on the menu.
A member of Nottingham Animal Rights who was present at the three-hour protest on Sunday, said the McHatties had added stipulations to their offer which she and fellow activists had felt were unacceptable.
She added: “They were asking for individual apologies from four people who had not done the things they were accusing them of.
“They also told them they could not post anything on Facebook again regarding this issue and that if they did, they would put foie gras back on their menu and encourage other restaurants to do the same.”
The woman said Sunday’s protest was a mainly peaceful event which aimed to educate the public about foie gras.
She added: “We had a lot of people passing by the Bridge Inn offering their support and letting us know they agreed it should not be on the menu and would not be going there until it was removed.
“But we did have a couple of people come out from the Bridge Inn making silly comments, saying they were pro-hunting and how they enjoyed skinning animals alive but they were just trying to get an emotional reaction and its’s quite normal for that kind of protest.”
The protestor said she could not deny that there had been some inappropriate comments made on social media by fellow activists against the McHatties and their customers but it was impossible to control individuals use of Facebook and other platforms.
She said: “The organisers have tried to keep this educational and peaceful but we cannot control people on social media. We have had people from other countries joining in because this is getting so much press coverage.
“Our next step is to see whether they have decided to re-consider taking foe gras off the menu. If not, we will continue to organise protests.
“This is not doing them any favours. They may feel like it is but we are getting a lot of support from people who agree that the dish should be removed.
“This also shows people that they can protest against animal cruelty and publicises the fact that people can stand up and have a voice.”
David McHattie, co-owner of the Bridge Inn, said yesterday’s protest had been educational, decent and civilised.
But he added: “We had huge support and the pub was very busy - I do not think our bar has ever been busier.
“There were people there yesterday who do not like foie gras but what they dislike even more is the internet bullying these protestors are engaging in to get their own way.
“We would obviously like this to go away but we are not going to do what they want. This is a huge waste of taxpayers’ money and police time spent sitting outside a pub for three hours.”
The McHatties said they had also had to remove the review section on Facebook page dedicated to another pub they own as it had been targeted with one-star reviews since the foie gras issue had erupted.