LOCAL farmers who supplied the abattoir at the centre of animal cruelty allegations will feel “let down”, an MP has said.

Footage recorded by animal rights group Animal Aid, showing the mistreatment of animals at a halal slaughterhouse at Busby Stoop, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, has been met with widespread anger locally and nationally.

The footage showed a worker hacking and sawing at animals’ throats, in contravention of Islamic practice, as well as sheep being kicked in the face and head and hurled into metal walls and taunted and frightened by workers at Bowood Yorkshire Lamb abattoir.

The footage from hidden cameras, which also showed animals in distress and suffering, has already been condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) immediately suspended the licenses of the slaughtermen involved after viewing the footage and is currently investigating with a view to bringing civil prosecutions.

One worker has now been sacked and three more suspended.

Thirsk MP Anne McIntosh described the information as “deeply shocking”. Miss McIntosh, who is chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said the committee is likely to question the FSA, when representatives of the government agency are due to appear before the committee this month.

The committee is holding one-off evidence sessions with Defra agencies as it examines its key achievements and challenges of the past five years and priorities for the next Parliament.

Miss McIntosh said: “There is no place for cruelty to animals at any stage of farm production and that includes up to the time of slaughter.

“Local farmers will feel very let down that having reared the animal to the highest standards of animal welfare, the animal is then so stressed at the abattoir.

“We are expecting to have the FSA appear before the EFRA Committee shortly so will have the opportunity to consider these aspects with the FSA at that time.”

While the entrance to the firm’s premises off the A61 Ripon to Thirsk road remained bolted, a guard remained on the forecourt and police stood guard near the entrance to the estate.

Many residents nearby also felt anger at the revelations.

Butcher and Thirsk councillor Gareth Dadd said the “staggering” allegations were a blow to the town’s reputation and local economy, a large section of which related to food production.

He said: “It is absolutely disgraceful and a betrayal of the good practices that are normally employed in the industry.”

Thirsk resident Tarek Ghouri organised a protest to take place outside the abattoir on Busby Stoop Road on Thursday lunchtime, between 12.45pm and 1.15pm.

Other residents and workers on the former Second World War RAF base near Skipton on Swale said they had been left aghast after viewing images of how animals were treated in the abattoir and were stunned by the alleged practices that had been carried out yards from their homes.

Margaret Algie, from nearby Sessay, said she thought the kind of animal cruelty seen on the video should be a criminal offence.

“It’s so incensed me. I’m not vegetarian, I like eating meat, but it beggars belief that this isn’t a criminal offence; it’s animal cruelty. People get prosecuted for crimes like badger baiting – why not this?”

The revelations in the video were also condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain. It said it betrayed the “very principles of humane slaughter” and were “abhorrent in Islamic practice”.

In a statement, itl said: “Animal cruelty is wrong and criminal wherever it may occur. That it is being carried out in halal slaughter makes it even more incredulous. Animal welfare should be observed by all slaughterhouses.

“The findings certainly are abhorrent in Islamic practice, and the abattoir must be subject to the full force of the law. In the past, Animal Aid has reported on similar abuses taking place at non-religious UK slaughterhouses.”

NFU chief livestock adviser John Royle said: “While the moral or religious questions on slaughter are not a matter for the NFU we do expect that whatever slaughter method is used, it should place animal welfare as a priority and employ sound scientific principles to its method.

“We expect the high levels of welfare on British farms to continue once livestock leaves the farms to go to slaughter. We are proud that the Red Tractor farm assurance standard requires that all animals are stunned before slaughter.”

In its statement, Bowood Lamb said: "Bowood Lamb is surprised that Animal Aid targeted our premises, given the stated aim of their campaign is to encourage CCTV in abattoirs.

"Bowood Lamb has had CCTV in our premises for over four years. In addition, whenever our plant is in operation, we have meat inspectors and an official veterinarian on site at all times to ensure that the law is complied with fully.

"Despite the fact that we take all possible precautions, it is impossible to ensure that human beings will never fall below the required standards. We are very pleased that this has been a very rare occurrence in our business but take the appropriate action when, as in this case, it does happen."

The firm called on Defra to use this incident to review its guidance on using the V-restrainer - a piece of equipment designed to funnel animals to slaughter.

Bowood Lamb solicitor Jamie Foster said the equipment works well if used as designed but Government rules mean it cannot be used in this way, leading to animals getting distressed.