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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
MP targeted in Asda petition hoax
John Thurso MP
John Thurso and the names of councillors appeared on the petition
The names of a MP and councillors have been deleted from an online petition supporting Asda's bid to build a supermarket in Thurso.

Caithness MP John Thurso was among the names to appear on the petition without their permission.

More than 1,900 names have now been added to the petition.

However, the organiser has had to delete Highland councillors' names after they were put there apparently as a prank.

Mr Thurso's name has also been removed after it was posted without his knowledge.

The petition was launched following a council area planning committee's vote rejecting Asda's plans.

This is something I was aware could happen, I'm still trying to find any Mickey Mouses or Donald Ducks
Petition organiser Paula Gent

The names of Graeme Smith, who chairs the committee, along with Thurso councillors Roger Saxon and Donald Mackay, appeared on the petition.

Local resident Paula Gent, who set it up, said those names and the name of another councillor had now been removed along with some genuine names accidentally posted twice in error.

Mr Thurso's name will also be taken off after she found out he had not actually signed the petition.

She said: "This is something I was aware could happen. I'm still trying to find any Mickey Mouses or Donald Ducks.

"It is something I am trying to keep on top of and also people emailing their names in duplicate by accident.

"Even if you knock off 100 of those names that should not be there, we still have 1,300 names."

Mr Thurso's name appeared as signature number 455 along with a comment attributed to him which read: "The area would considerably benefit from this development".

Asda petition
The organiser said more than 1,300 people have signed up

The MP told BBC Scotland he was surprised to find out he had been associated with the petition, which is run on website petitiononline.com and carried as a link on Caithness.org.

He added: "Caithness.org won a prize four or five years ago for the quality of the website. It is a much used, well liked and well respected community website.

"It is one of the best in the UK, which is tremendous and I have no problem or criticism of them."

Mr Thurso, who became the first hereditary peer to take a seat in the House of Commons in 2001, said people to whom he had spoken about the planned supermarket said they were not opposed to Asda, but the site it had selected.

The petition was launched within hours of the area committee's decision on Monday.

Asda's application was refused on the casting vote of committee chairman Mr Smith after the vote was split 4-4, on the grounds that the proposed site was in the green belt and that should be protected.

Public comments

There were 71 objections from the public lodged against Asda's proposal. Mr Smith said the committee's decision had been the right one.

He added that he had been surprised by the "poor quality" of Asda's application and said it was contrary to the area's local plan.

Mr Smith said he wished those signing the online petition had made their views known when public comments were invited on Asda's application.

He added: "I have a track record for voting for development in the north and I would be minded to do that again if the siting of the store was proper.

"I am keen to see development, but not at any price."

A greenfield site on the north west fringe of Thurso was earmarked by Asda for a 2,896 sq metre store and petrol station.

Asda plan for Thurso thrown out
26 Jun 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Asda picks city site for new shop
18 May 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Supermarket 'to create 400 jobs'
27 Apr 06 |  Northern Ireland
Asda set to start selling houses
26 Apr 06 |  Business
Asda to take on 7,000 staff in UK
21 Feb 06 |  Business

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