A SECURITY guard has hit back at critics, saying he used “reasonable force” to kick out animal rights protesters from McDonald’s.

Jake Pond was on the door at the fast food restaurant in London Road, Brighton when demonstrators burst in on Saturday.

Video shows Mr Pond pushing several of the activists out of the restaurant as they chant “it’s not food, it’s violence”.

The protesters, from the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, accused Mr Pond of using excessive violence.

But he said: “I was just doing my job. They came in like normal customers then they walked up to the till and got a banner out and a megaphone and started chanting.

“I then asked them to leave. They were recording the whole time... it’s on Facebook.

“After I asked them several times, I said I would use force if they didn’t leave.

“They dropped to the floor – my hands were out of the way.

“I did not use violence at all – you can see in the video.

“Judge for yourself. But I shouldn’t be penalised for doing my job.

“I’ve done a course and we discussed how much force you can use in these situations.

“They said I used violence when I used necessary force.”

Mr Pond said he wanted to set the record straight after a barrage of online criticism.

On Facebook, Mr Pond has been described as a “paid thug” and condemned for alleged heavy-handedness.

Others stuck up for him, however.

One said: “I know him personally and he would never f***ing hurt a fly”.

Still others defended the protesters. One commenter said: “All they did was stand at the counter and talk”.

An activist at the protest said: “We say we are a nation of animal lovers, yet we abuse, mutilate, exploit and kill non-human animals every single day.”

At the time, a spokesman for Direct Action Everywhere warned of more protests, saying: “It is no surprise that when attempting to peacefully disrupt violence towards innocent animals, we are met with so much aggression and violence.

“This place only exists because the customers are kept in the dark about the abuse that occurs to the animals who are held captive inside dark sheds.

“We will keep returning to places that objectify animals and take their rights from them.

“That will continue until animals get protection under law and the justice they deserve.”

A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “The safety and security of our employees and customers is our absolute priority.

“The restaurant remained open. We are assisting police with their enquiries.”