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Animal rights pair held
TWO animal rights campaigners thought to be involved in protests against a York restaurant have been arrested on suspicion of harassment.
North Yorkshire Police said today that a number of items were also seized as part of an investigation.
A spokeswoman said that the two people who were arrested were a 40-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman.
They were suspected of harassment "relating to an incident connected to a restaurant in York".
She said both had been released on police bail while inquiries continued.
A number of allegations have been made on the Animal Liberation Front's (ALF) website about police officers' alleged conduct during the arrests.
The website carries a request for supporters to email North Yorkshire Police's professional standards.
Postings on the site claim the arrests related to the sustained campaign by YAFA (York Action for Animals) against the sale of foie gras by the Blue Bicycle restaurant in Fossgate.
YAFA organised a series of demonstrations outside the restaurant, which it said was the last in York to sell the controversial paté.
Earlier this month, it claimed victory, saying foie gras had been dropped from the menu.
But the Blue Bicycle said although the dish had gone from its main menu, it was still available on the specials board and for outside catering contracts, and it could reappear on the main menu in the future.
It is claimed on the ALF site that a property was raided by police under a search warrant issued in relation to unproven allegations of a "harrassing" phone call made on New Years Eve.
It is also claimed that items removed from the property included computers, mobile phones, a video camera and magazines and that cars were also searched.
Another posting on the website contains information on how to avoid "sensitive" information - for example about an "upcoming illegal project" - being obtained from computers when raided by the authorities.
The police spokeswoman said because two arrests had been made, the force would be unable to make any further comment.
A spokeswoman for the Blue Bicycle declined to comment.
Campaigners 'shocked' by the news
Alan Swain, spokesperson for YAFA, said today that news of the arrests had come as a shock.
"YAFA is a peaceful, law-abiding organisation committed to bringing about change through the democratic process," he said. "We exercise our right of peaceful protest, and have worked very closely with North Yorkshire Police throughout our demonstrations to keep them fully appraised of our plans. We have developed a positive working relationship with the police and are proud that our demonstrations have always passed without incident.
"We have been made aware that two of our members have been arrested in correction with a complaint of harassment.
"We understand that these complaints do not relate to our demonstrations, and the two individuals deny any wrongdoing," he said.