Sunday 18 July 2010 | Facebook feed

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Raoul Moat Facebook tribute page deleted

A Facebook page criticised by David Cameron for glorifying the actions of Northumberland gunman Raoul Moat has been deleted.

 

The Prime Minister expressing his disgust in the Commons yesterday after more than 35,000 people signed up to support the 'Raoul Moat You Legend' group.

However, despite being contacted by Number 10, Facebook refused to remove the page, saying it could not regulate the opinions of its users.

The page's creator Siobhan O'Dowd, deleted it voluntarily as the scale of the public backlash mounted. She said that she was considering whether to revive the page.

Asked why she removed the page, she said: "I don't know really. A few of us came to a decision but it's going to be up again running.

"We don't condone what he did, as what he did was wrong. I feel sorry for the families but he was still a human being at the end of the day.

"He had problems and needed help and he didn't get any help."

Asked about the furore over the Facebook group, she said: "To be honest, I didn't think this would be the kind of reaction I would get.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even Facebook said that and that's why they wouldn't shut it down."

Overnight a number of new Facebook groups were set up to demand the tributes be removed from the social networking site.

As well as praising the actions of Moat, the tributes page included a number of offensive remarks directed at the police.

Russ Watson, chairman of Northumbria Police Federation, said: "Elements of society have referred to Moat as a legend – that emphasises to me the difficult and dangerous job that every police officer has to face to keep the citizens of this country safe.

"Evil comes in many guises and for Northumbria Police it came with the name of Raoul Moat.

Just hours before the page was withdrawn, Ms O'Dowd had launched a rambling defence of her views.

In a radio interview she told listeners: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Legends get talked about and he's being talked about so in my eyes he's a legend.

"I think he's a legend for keeping them [the police] on their toes. I think it's funny how he hid. It's not just me who thinks this.

"It's about time someone gave the police something to do, that's what they get paid for trying to catch criminals so at least their wage was deserved."

Moat, 37, murdered Chris Brown, 29, and seriously injured his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, in a gun ambush at her home in Gateshead.

He then shot PC David Rathband, 42, as he sat in his police patrol car, before fleeing to the Northumberland village of Rothbury where he remained on the run for almost a week. The former bouncer shot himself on Friday night following a stand off with armed officers.

Mr Cameron said at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday that Moat should be remembered for the pain he inflicted on his victims and the wider community.

He told Parliament: "I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man.

"'There should be sympathy for his victims, and for the havoc he wreaked in that community. There should be no sympathy for him."

However, Facebook today insisted it would only itself remove content "that violates our terms", adding: "Facebook is a place where people can express their views and discuss things in an open way as they can and do in many other places, and as such we sometimes find people discussing topics others may find distasteful, however that is not a reason in itself to stop a debate from happening."

 
 
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