Animal rights extremists are using elderly and infirm people as human shields to escape arrest while demonstrating against a controversial monkey farm, a senior police officer claims.

Tony Lake, Sussex assistant chief constable, in a letter to the Argus, slams hardline activists for tactics they have used in a bid to shut down Shamrock (GB) in Small Dole.

He says: " Criminal acts of violence by cowardly thugs who cloak themselves in hoods to hide their identities cannot be tolerated in a civilised society and will not be tolerated in Sussex. We are actively taking steps to identify those responsible and deal with them."

Toni Vernelli, of Save the Shamrock Monkeys said: "I find these remarks unbelievable. A lot of demonstrators would be insulted at the idea."

For more see our letters page...

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.