THE York-based petition to ban the sale of foie gras in Britain has closed, after gaining the support of nearly 9,000 people.

City of York councillor Paul Blanchard launched the petition on the Downing Street website, as part of his wider campaign against the French delicacy. The petition closed at the weekend, having reached 8,955 names.

Coun Blanchard, Labour representative for Heworth, said: "With a petition just a few short of 9,000 signatories, and 58 MPs officially supporting, together with support from the RSPCA, Compassion In World Farming and People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA), as well as many celebrities backing it, I would say it has been a pretty successful campaign.

"However, the ultimate test will come shortly when Ben Bradshaw MP, the Minister who has the power to ban the sale of foie gras, considers my petition and decides what to do.

"That's the ultimate test. It actually needs to be banned from sale and I shall be writing to him over the next few days with complex legal argument that shows he does indeed have the power to ban it, as both the World Treaty Organisation and European Union treaties allow countries to ban the sale of products on the grounds of public morality.

"I'm proud that I have at the very least raised awareness of this cruel and inhumane product. I've had hundreds of emails from around the world in support of my campaign, many of which were from France."

Coun Blanchard initiated his campaign in January, when he submitted a motion to City of York Council calling for the city to follow Chicago's lead and ban the dish from shops and restaurants in York. The matter was adjourned for officers to carry out a wider study into how the city could discourage animal cruelty.

Foie gras is the liver of geese and ducks which have been force fed, and it is opposed by animal rights campaigners on cruelty grounds.