SICK fascists were today slammed by a York councillor, after they tried to hijack his campaign to ban foie gras.

The campaign - which includes an online petition - has already attracted thousands of signatures, and backing from major animal charities. It was launched by Heworth councillor Paul Blanchard.

But in recent days, a highly- offensive email has been circulated by anti-Semites, accusing Jews of being behind the cruel foie gras practice, and linking to Coun Blanchard's petition.

Coun Blanchard today hit back, saying: "This is appalling. To link a campaign based on respect for our fellow creatures with one based on bigotry, hatred and downright ignorance is the worst kind of insult. This is not helpful at all and, initially, I was prepared to close the campaign site down if it was going to be hijacked by Nazis.

"Most right-thinking people, though, would realise that if you have a campaign website, you can't really control who links to it. That's just the internet for you. And people know that it's easy these days, even with a desktop PC, to fuse my legitimate website video, narrated by the actor Roger Moore showing the terrible conditions these birds are subjected to, with their own Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic messages.

"I have many Jewish friends and have discussed this issue with some of them. Apparently it's a recognised tactic of the far-right to hijack legitimate campaigns with anti-Semitic messages."

The petition is hosted on a Government website.

Coun Blanchard said: "My only real worry was that someone might ask the 10 Downing Street team to take down the petition, innocently thinking that it was part of their campaign. I have contacted them and there's nothing to worry about - they know that this is an honest campaign with an open message."

Battle to ban foie gras

Heworth councillor Paul Blanchard is trying to ban the French delicacy from being sold in Britain.

He has launched a petition on the Downing Street website, and has received backing from a number of charities - as well as former James Bond star, Roger Moore. Foie gras is the liver of force-fed ducks and geese, and is staunchly opposed by animal rights campaigners.