A POLICE officer shot in the face with an airgun was due to undergo surgery to remove the pellet last night.

PC Lee Jackson, 32, has a pellet lodged in his jaw after someone fired an air weapon at him as he drove a patrol car through Dipton, near Stanley, County Durham.

The operation, at the University Hospital of North Durham, was delayed to allow the hospital to deal with more pressing emergencies.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: "As his case was not classed as an emergency, doctors decided not to operate. PC Jackson was released from hospital and went home, where he was able to eat a light meal.

"Colleagues said Lee was in good spirits, despite the discomfort he was obviously feeling."

The incident happened at 11.10am on Tuesday, as PC Jackson and a police colleague drove along St John's Terrace, in Dipton.

A 22-year-old Dipton man was arrested on suspicion of assault and possession of an air weapon with intent to endanger life and remained in custody at Consett police station last night.