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Radio station apologises after encouraging listeners to troll Helen Flanagan

Listeners to the Manchester station hit back, accusing it of promoting bullying

A radio station has been forced to apologise to actress Helen Flanagan after being accused of encouraging online 'trolling'.

Manchester's Key 103 launched a Facebook poll asking if users “loved” or “loathed” the former Coronation Street star.

Similar comments were made during the station's breakfast show on Friday.

But listeners hit back, accusing the station of promoting online bullying. They also attacked the station for failing to support a fellow Mancunion. Flanagan, 23, was born in Bury, Greater Manchester.

One commenter, called Nicky Phillips, wrote, “Have you nasty lot ever heard the saying ‘if you can’t say anything nice then don’t saying anything at all’. You should take this post down as it’s really quite unnecessary and just encourages people to bully.”

The station removed the poll and apologised soon after, admitting it was “inappropriate”.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, a Key 103 spokesman said, “Yesterday some comments were made on air and on Facebook about Helen Flanagan and for that we sincerely apologise.  We are sorry for any offence this caused.”

He added, “The wording of the posting was inappropriate and as soon as it was seen by our senior team at the station it was taken down.”

“We are now in discussions with the staff member responsible for the posting.”

The Facebook post, which accompanied a photo of Ms Flanagan, said “Hmmmmmmm this is HELEN FLANAGAN in Manchester yesterday... Hmmmmm LOVE OR LOATHE??”

Online bullying has come under the spotlight again, as police in Scotland are investigating claims that a teenager took his own life after being harassed online.

Daniel Perry, 17, killed himself after he was threatened that webcam chats he believed he was having with an American girl would be played to his family and friends unless he paid money into a bank account.

It was reported that he had also been urged to commit suicide by anonymous users through Ask.fm, the social networking site which has been linked to five other deaths including that of Hannah Smith, 14, whose funeral was held on Friday.