A CHARITY is demanding an apology from the film-makers of Wallace and Gromit after it poked fun at leprosy.

Colchester’s Lepra has criticised a trailer for the latest Aardman film The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

They say it uses a misleading stereotype after it showed a leper’s arm fall off.

The scene shows a pirate captain demanding gold on board a ship when a crew member replies: “Afraid we don’t have any gold old man, this is a leper-boat”. His arm then falls off.

A statement on the charity’s website says: “Leprosy is not an easy disease to catch, it is curable, those affected should live within mainstream society and no – limbs don’t just fall off. Not even for comic effect.”

Sarah Nancollas, chief executive, of Lepra based in Middleborough, Colchester, said it had already received complaints about the trailer from sufferers across the world and wanted an apology from the directors and producers.

She said: “Winning the battle against leprosy discrimination is vital if we are to win the war against the social and physical effects of this curable disease.

“Although we appreciate the makers’ intention to engage audiences, we are disappointed they have chosen to play on a misleading stereotype.

“We visit about 3,000 schools across the UK and children in East Anglia alone raise more than £30,000 each year to fight leprosy stigma, hard work that is undone instantly by this film trailer.”

The trailer has also been criticised by Stephen Fry, who labelled it a cheap joke.

Sir Christian Bonington, president of Lepra, said: “Not only is the dropping off of body parts a total misnomer, we have to ask is it acceptable for us to be laughing at the millions of people who are disabled by leprosy?

“With World Leprosy Day later this month we ask ourselves why is it that some people and conditions should be fair game for jokes while others are off-limits? The answer of course is they should not be.”

Arthur Sheriff, head of communications for Aardman, said: “We take matters like this most seriously and are reviewing the situation.”