TWO councillors have come under fire after taking part in a highly controversial Facebook game involving ‘necking’ alcoholic drinks as quickly as possible.
The deadly social media drinking craze features people filming themselves ‘downing’ alcohol laced with bizarre ingredients, sparking fears people could die.
Two councillors, Paul White and Jenny Purcell, have been rapped by local MPs who said they should be ‘setting a better example’.
The controversy comes as the deaths of two students in Ireland were linked to the Neck and Nominate Facebook game.
Videos of mainly young people in East Lancashire include them drinking ‘shocking’ ingredients such as cow excrement, vomit, shampoo, urine and even what appears to be the contents of a child’s nappy.
One video posted by a man from Clitheroe shows him quickly drinking an alcopop, followed by a full bottle of rose wine and a half litre bottle of vodka - all in under three minutes.
And a Blackburn man posted a video of him drinking a cocktail of rum, vodka, beer and his friends’ urine before being sick into a kitchen sink.
The two councillors defended their actions with Coun White saying there was nothing dangerous in what he had done, while Coun Purcell said it was a ‘bit of a laugh’ used to raise money for charity.
Coun White, who is a Lancashire county and Pendle councillor, uploaded a video to his Facebook page showing him sat beside a large teddy bear wearing a flat cap and downing a pint of ale from a tankard while Rule Britannia played in the background.
The Tory councillor said: “If you see the video, you’ll see I did absolutely nothing dangerous.
“I was sat at home, on my own, on my sofa. I drank a pint of beer. There is nothing dangerous about it.
“I’m not endorsing anything. With everything in life people can take it to an extreme. Some people drive recklessly. I drive a car. “It doesn’t mean I endorse drag racing.”
And Jennifer Purcell, a Pendle borough councillor for Barnoldswick, was filmed ‘necking’ a pint of lager in a pub. She uploaded the video on to her Facebook page.
She said: “There’s too much doom and gloom in this world and this was a bit of a laugh.
“I’d been on a sponsored walk that day and was nominated to down a pint.
“I raised £30 for doing it because I collected money off everyone for doing it. No-one thought I’d be able to.”
However, their behaviour has sparked criticism from fellow politicians.
Pendle MP Andrew Stevenson said: “Seeing councillors behave in this way is nothing to be proud of.
“They need to realise that even in their private lives, they should be setting an example, especially to young people.”
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “I think that elected politicians, like other people in public life, must be careful about the example they set.
“The prevalence of social media makes it even more important for one to be always on guard.”
And Geoff Driver, leader of the Tory group on Lancashire County Council said: “Everybody should always drink responsibly.
“I would be extremely disappointed if any of my colleagues did anything that would encourage otherwise.”
Karen Sargeson, alcohol liaison nurse from East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, said: “Binge drinking is dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you are consuming and how you will react to it.
“Your body takes an hour to rid itself of a unit of alcohol and drinking to excess harms your liver and additionally you are at risk of choking on your vomit if you drink yourself to oblivion.
“The dangers of binge drinking is a very hard message to communicate to the younger age group, especially when peer pressure is evident.”
Participants in the craze film themselves downing alcohol on camera before nominating a friend to complete a similar challenge within 24 hours.
The hazardous game of dares escalates quickly and each challenger hopes that their upload will be more shocking than the last.
It is this competitive element which is concerning health professionals.
Katie Hetherington, young person development manager at Lifeline Project which provides help with drug and alcohol addiction across Lancashire, said drinking alcohol quickly at home alone was dangerous in itself.
Katie said: “We find it very worrying. We want the people involved to be aware of the dangers - not only of drinking such large quantities of alcohol in one go but also of the dangers of drinking at home alone.
“It is worrying that a lot of the videos are of young people who seem to be home alone without friends around to look after them if something should happen.
“It’s also important that young people are aware of the dangers of the internet. These videos may seem funny but once they are uploaded, they can be seen by all kinds of people and could be very detrimental to young people’s futures.”
Dr Tom Smith, the Lancashire Telegraph’s medical expert, said: “The man that drank the bottle of wine then the bottle of vodka in three minutes could have died. He could have slipped into a coma, damaged his stomach and he probably has damaged his liver. He could have fallen unconscious and the risk then is that he would vomit and choke on it and many people die this way.
“Alcohol is a poison and drinking that level of alcohol all at once is deadly. It’s an absolutely stupid game and people are poisoning themselves. It’s frightening. These young people think they’re immortal but of course, they’re not. It will most certainly prove to be fatal.”
Alcohol teams at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust said one in 10 admissions to the Emergency Department were people aged 25 to 30 with alcohol-related problems and were either injured, suffering alcohol poisoning after binge-drinking, or with symptoms of drink-related chronic illness.