ANIMAL rights activists have been demonstrating outside Thornbury's luxury Castle Hotel as part of a campaign targeting establishments serving foie gras.

Around half a dozen placard-waving members of a Bristol-based group picketed the hotel's outer entrance in protest against the French duck or goose liver pate - production of which is claimed to involve significant cruelty.

Sgt Craig Ogborne, of Thornbury police, said officers were present to monitor the demonstration.

"A joint operation was put in place involving police and hotel management to ensure that order was maintained and also that people could exercise their right to make peaceful protest.

"There were no incidents and no arrests were made."

Castle Hotel general manager Brian Jarvis said the hotel was conscious of animal welfare issues and sourced its foie gras only from carefully selected suppliers.

"It comes from producers who do not employ the old fashioned production methods, which these days are quite old hat. As an animal lover myself I would have no truck with food whose production involved cruelty of any kind."

The protest action had not affected the hotel or upset guests in any way, he said.

"The only guests who passed it were a couple who thought it was so ridiculous that they made a point of ordering foie gras that very evening," said Mr Jarvis.

A spokesman for Bristol Animal Rights Coalition said: "Production of foie gras is banned in this country and if it's called foie gras on the menu then it has to come from France where it's made from the diseased livers of ducks or geese that have been force-fed.

"We think the public are with us on this issue and that Britain will soon be foie gras-free.

"All we are asking is for hotels to read the literature and put something else on the menu that does not involve such a cruel process."