A PAIR of internet journalists say they "categorically deny" an alleged campaign of harassment against North Yorkshire Police.

Police allege Timothy Hicks and Nigel Ward have carried out a campaign of harassment - which involved numerous emails and complaints against nine people, including three serving police officers and at least one former officer - over several years.

A spokeswoman said the force would investigate complaints made against its officers as a matter of course, but claimed "years of unwarranted, harmful personal abuse" against the individuals had already cost upwards of £400,000, and a civil action has been filed against all three.

In a statement, Mr Ward and Mr Hicks - who both write for the North Yorks Enquirer website - said they "categorically deny any offence or harassment", and their coverage of the force, which includes several articles over the investigation into former mayor of Scarborough Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile, "has always been in the public interest".

The statement said: "The North Yorks Enquirer considers that it is not the duty of the police or the Police and Crime Commissioner to use police funds to close down or attack local news media.

"We have provided Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan with legal opinion that it is not a lawful use of Police funding, manpower and resources for a Police Force to support, finance and launch civil litigation on behalf of private citizens against other private citizens."

A police spokeswoman said: "We stand by our position that the cost of pursuing an injunction is in the interests of the public purse, and will save the taxpayer unnecessary expense in the long-term. We have no comment to make on the detail of this case, as this is for the court to hear and decide upon."