Nine people have been charged with blackmail offences following a massive series of raids targeting alleged animal rights extremists across the UK and Europe.

A further 20 people have been released on police bail, one person has been released without charge and two others remain in custody.

Magistrates granted an extension to police questioning the remaining two for a further 36 hours.

Assistant Chief Constable Adrian Leppard, of Kent Police, said: "The coordinated police operation targeting criminal activity associated with animal rights extremism is progressing well.

"Police and forensic searches at all the addresses in Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Greater London, Lancashire, Merseyside, Northumbria, Worcestershire, Yorkshire and South Wales are now complete.

"We have now reached a point in the investigation at which we are able to charge nine people with a number of offences, all relating to criminal activity associated with animal rights extremism."