AN evicted animal sanctuary owner has been arrested on suspicion of assault during an attempt to re-take her County Durham farm.

Paula Campbell, her daughter Jayne and four other supporters returned to Milkup Bank in Willington, County Durham, this afternoon (February 5) claiming that their original eviction was unlawful.

Supporter Jonathan Proctor met security staff at the gate of the farm and declared they were trespassing at the Rainbow Ark Animal Sanctuary.

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But staff acting on behalf of Redstone Mortgage Company, who repossessed the farm last Wednesday, said their court order was a lawful declaration and called police.

Ms Campbell, 47, and another 18-year-old male supporter were arrested and taken to Bishop Auckland Police Station shortly after 4pm.

Durham Police said both were arrested on suspicion of common assault which The Northern Echo understands relates to one of the security staff.

Ms Campbell had earlier claimed she had been grabbed by the wrist by one of the security staff.

Speaking earlier in the afternoon, Ms Campbell said: “I know what has happened is not right, it is illegal.

“I’m not just challenging this for me now, I am doing this for anybody else who finds themselves in the same position.

“I will not let this lie.”

Redstone Mortgage Company took over the farm as Ms Campbell owed thousands of pounds on her mortgage.

Ms Campbell claimed that the repossession order approved by a civil court in 2008 was now out of date and therefore unlawful.

But a spokeswoman for Redstone Mortgage said the order was valid and had been enacted as a last resort.

The spokeswoman said: “The eviction was very much a last resort for Redstone. However, over the course of the past seven years, Ms Campbell has consistently shown that she cannot afford her mortgage.

“Ms Campbell had sufficient notice of the eviction date.

“Both the Court and Redstone also gave Ms Campbell ample opportunity to make arrangements to leave the property.”

Ms Campbell has also raised concerns about the way more than 300 animals have been treated at the farm since her eviction, calling their living state “disgusting”.

But the RSPCA said they are satisfied with the way the animals are being looked after, although they have taken a cat and two horses away as part of a welfare investigation.