Ryedale councillor faces calls to quit for “unacceptable” comments about death of game dealer

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A Ryedale councillor and anti-hunt protestor is facing calls to resign following comments he made about the death of a former soldier and game dealer.

Cllr Tommy Woodward, who is a member of Pickering Town and Ryedale District Council, has attracted criticisms for comments he made on a news report about the suicide of Allan Ellis, of Bacup, Lancashire.

Commenting on Facebook, he said: “Best use of a gun I can think of,” before adding: “If you choose to own a gun and kill for pleasure, then it’s best you kill yourself.”

His comments have sparked outrage on social media from hunt supportersand from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Countryside Alliance.

Richard Ali, BASC’s chief executive, said: “We are seeking the immediate resignation of this man from any elected office and a full apology to the family of Mr. Ellis for the distress he has caused. Mocking the suicide of anyone is absolutely unacceptable. Going further and stating that lawful gun owners should “kill themselves” is despicable behaviour. This man is not fit to hold a public office.”

“In a register of financial and other interests Councillor Woodward has declared himself to be a member of the League Against Cruel Sports and the Hunt Saboteurs Association. BASC is calling for the League Against Cruel Sports to distance itself from these comments from one of its members and to confirm they are a breach of the values of the organisation.”

Both BASC and the Countryside Alliance said they are contacting Ryedale District Council to demand his resignation.

Cllr Woodward told Minster FM: “I didn’t go on the family’s Facebook and said I am glad he is dead because I am not.”

A spokesman for Ryedale District Council said: “The views expressed are personal comments and are not the views of Ryedale District Council. Any formal complaints received will be dealt with by the Monitoring Officer under the appropriate complaints process.”

*Read more in Wednesday’s Malton and Pickering Mercury