A DORSET MP was among those fooled after a county council newsletter urged paddlers to throw stones back towards the land to help fight erosion.

Residents were intrigued after an article in the quarterly Your Dorset magazine, sent to 200,000 homes across the county, stated: "When paddling, pick up any suitable stones and throw them towards the land.

"To encourage responsible throwing the county council ranger service, in conjunction with Natural England, will be organising events and issuing official T-shirts to registered throwers."

However, when people captivated by the idea contacted the council for details about special stone-throwing events to stop the shoreline's retreat, the truth emerged. The whole thing was the work of a public sector prankster.

A Dorset County Council spokes-man apologised. He said the advice had been written "as a joke" and had somehow found its way into the magazine. He stressed that an investigation had been launched and controls were being "tightened".

But not everyone was against the idea. Before the truth emerged, West Dorset MP and schools minister Jim Knight said he would welcome such a move.

He told the Echo: "I thought it was a bit bizarre but because the council and Natural England were supporting the initiative I fell for it.

"There are signs on the beach saying that people shouldn't remove stones so it didn't seem too ridiculous at first. It would have been a brilliant April Fool's Day story."