CYBER bullies have forced a South Tyneside restaurant to axe its online wedding competition.
The Tavistock Retro launched the £7,000 giveaway to coincide with its third anniversary.
The aim was for four borough couples to battle it out and gain the most ‘likes’ on the restaurant’s Facebook page, with the winner scooping a November package which included transport, venue hire, a cake, reception and entertainment.
However, an online war of words broke out at the weekend, prompting the restaurant’s boss to cancel the competition after some of the brides to be, and their families, received abusive messages.
A spokesman for the Italian eaterie, in Stanhope Road, South Shields, told the Gazette: “It was with great regret that we had to cancel the competition as things quite simply got out of hand.
“We do not condone bullying, and nor can we be seen to promote it.
“It’s a great shame that a few individuals spoilt a lovely thing for four couples. But we could not endorse this.”
Within days of the competition’s launch at the start of April, all competing couples had amassed thousands of ‘likes’ each.
However, after personal attacks on some of the contestants and their family members, the restaurant took to its Facebook page with a statement announcing the competition’s closure. The statement, which has since been removed, read: “After a lot of deliberation between the management team we regret to inform you all that the wedding competition is going to have to be cancelled.
“This was always the last resort and we honestly are shocked by some of the negative comments and verbal abuse which has been evident.
“We have received many personal messages from people accusing us of condoning internet bullying and even threatening us with police action.
“As a result, we feel the only option is to cancel the competition. We do not, under any circumstances, condone any of the actions of individuals who have chosen to litter the comments with verbal abuse and personal threats upon the finalists and their friends and families.
“Nor do we want to be perceived of allowing internet bullying to prevail in any way, shape or form.
“This competition was intended to be a celebration of our third anniversary.
“As a restaurant, we wanted to use the contacts we had to help provide a free wedding, for a lucky couple to enjoy and be part of their special day.
“It was a gift to the community, for all the amazing support we have had over the past three years.
“Unfortunately, we have been shocked that this gift has had to end in this way.
“We are not giving in to ‘bullying’ by this, we are merely putting an end to it by closing the competition
“We urge you to please refrain from any further personal attacks on either the finalists, or their friends and families.”