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Pickering Councillor in Storm Over Facebook Suicide Comments

Tommy Woodward 121214

3:58pm 12th December 2014
(Updated 11:50am 15th December 2014)

A Pickering councillor is facing calls to quit over comments he made on Facebook about the suicide of a game hunter and former soldier.

Under a Daily Mail article about the suicide of Richard Ellis, a game hunter and former soldier from Lancashire, posted on the Hunt Saboteurs Facebook page, Pickering Town Council and Ryedale District Councillor Tommy Woodward initially wrote "best use of a gun I can think of" before clarifying his comment in a longer post:

"I don't think anyone thinks it's a good thing.
We would all rather live in a world where no-one kills for fun.
However if you choose to own a gun and kill for pleasure, then it's best you kill yourself.
On a similar line no-one wants people to die in car accidents, but, if someone drives like an idiot, it's far better that they kill themselves rather than some innocent road user."

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation have called on Tommy Woodward to resign from his roles as a councillor on Pickering Town Council and Ryedale District Council. BASC Chief Executive Richard Ali said in a statement:

“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.”

Tommy Woodward spoke to Minster FM's Kevin Larkin about his comments and the ensuing row:

Tommy Woodward has confirmed to Minster FM he will stand in May's elections for Pickering Town Council and is likely to stand again for Ryedale District Council unless the Liberal Party decides otherwise.

A spokesperson 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."

A York Samaritans spokesman said: "Every suicide is a tragedy. Anyone struggling to cope can talk to Samaritans about whatever is getting to them. Samaritans is here around the clock every day of the year to listen and offer confidential support."

York Samaritans' number is 01904 655 888. The national number is 08457 90 90 90. Samaritans' email address is

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