RESIDENTS say their local protest message against alleged animal cruelty at an abattoir has been tarred by an extreme minority who used the revelation to make death threats.

About 50 residents from across the north of England gathered outside Bowood Yorkshire Lamb abattoir at Busby Stoop near Thirsk on Thursday, after shocking footage of abuse of animals at the slaughterhouse was released by campaign group Animal Aid.

As The Northern Echo reported previously, there were no threats or violence made throughout the peaceful protest on Thursday, although some abusive comments were shouted at workers as they came out of the building.

The protest coincided with revelations that the abattoir had been in receipt of death threats.

Protesters say the behaviour of the extremists who made the threats - who were not linked to their protest - tarred the message of Thursday’s campaign.

One of the protesters, Fiona Munro, from Darlington, said: “The people at that protest were retired teachers, farmers, locals; good people who showed their disgust at what happened at that abattoir. It was people concerned about animal cruelty.

“None of those people would send death threats to them, or anyone come to that.

“People who represent the animal rights groups do not condone death threats or that type of behaviour.”

A move to enforce abattoirs to operate monitored CCTV cameras now looks set to be debated in the House of Commons, after an e-petition calling for the move saw a surge of signatures following the release of footage by Animal Aid.

E-petitions reaching 100,000 signatures are automatically passed to the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee to consider for debate.