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Millions backing online petitions

A huge rise in online campaigning has seen millions of people back causes including a successful bid to save a woman on death row in Sudan and the failed attempt to reinstate Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.

Figures released by petition site show it has had eight million UK users since its launch four years ago - a million more people than watched the seven-way leaders' debate on TV before the general election.

The site, which has 100 million users worldwide, has been used by campaigners including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver calling for more food education as well as groups opposed to the return of fox hunting and another calling on the north of England to secede and join Scotland.

The most popular campaign was the successful attempt to free Sudanese woman Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who had been sentenced to death for her religious beliefs.

A total of 1,092,281 people signed that petition, putting it ahead of the 1,064,956 who backed the unsuccessful attempt to reinstate Clarkson following his suspension from the BBC motoring show.

Other popular causes include a campaign to stop MPs getting a pay rise which has more than 387,000 signatures.

The site's UK director Brie Rogers Lowery said: " Millions have signed winning petitions since launched in the UK in 2011 and with powering 10 campaign victories a week, the internet is increasingly the first place citizens turn when they want to hold power to account."

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