Militant vegans held an animal rights protest and stormed the premises during a livestock market in Colchester.

More than a dozen campaigners arrived at Stanfords, in Wyncolls Road, on the Severalls Industrial Estate, yesterday.

Essex Police were called in to help keep the peace when the group of protestors began filming and using a loudhailer on the site.

Campaigners were escorted off the property, but remained by the side of the road with posters and placards throughout the afternoon.

One of the protestors said: “We are here to expose the truth - these living, breathing sentient beings are animals who feel pain.

“They suffer, feel pain and joy but they are used for profit.

“These people are profiting from their suffering.

“They are not objects, they are living, breathing, sentient beings.

“We want to make the public aware of what is happening, to expose the truth and let them know it is not all right to abuse animals.

“We are here for the animals and to share their story.”

The protestors said they did not belong to any specific animals rights organisation, but were there to protest the sale of live animals.

Graham Ellis, whose family have owned Stanfords since 1879, said the business had done nothing wrong and the protestors broke regulations by coming on to property.

“We run a legitimate business here and they tried to stop us doing that,” he said.

“They have a right to protest but they do not have a right to disrupt our business.

“They were taking pictures and talking through a loudhailer which causes the animals to be distressed.

“This kind of thing is an issue which happens throughout the country.

“Open discussion is better than this kind of thing and we are all against animal cruelty here.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were called shortly before 12.15pm yesterday with reports of protesters at Stanfords in Wyncolls Road, Colchester.

“We attended and spoke with representatives from the group and the company.

“The protesters left the compound and we monitored the situation."

He added: “We respect the right of those who wish to hold a peaceful protest and our priority is public safety for those involved and other members of the public.”