VANDALS have attacked a controversial mobile phone mast in Sheriff Hutton, causing £40,000 of damage.

Concrete was poured into the workings of the 15ft mast yesterday.

It is believed this has disabled the mast - though it has never actually been switched on.

Villager John Botting, a prominent campaigner against the mast, said: "This had nothing to do with me, or any of the protesters that I am aware of.

"We would have nothing to gain from this.

"It looks as if it's been damaged beyond repair, and as far as I'm concerned it's a situation where it means the mast is redundant.

"I don't want to condone it, but I'm happy."

This is the latest twist in a long-running saga involving the mast. In June The Press reported that a group of 100 villagers from Sheriff Hutton took tents and banners to the mast which was put up by phone giant Orange.

At that point the mast, which had been there for well over a year, had not been switched on.

Villagers have mounted a fierce protest campaign calling for its removal for more than a year now.

They even pledged enough cash between them - some £60,000 - to have it removed.

Last year, officials from Ryedale District Council failed to lodge a protest against the mast within the alloted timescale.

This meant Orange had the right to put it up anyway.

Residents have objected to the mast on health grounds.

But Martin Grey, from Orange, said an independent review had concluded there was no "convincing scientific evidence" that signals from mobile phone base stations had adverse effects on people's health.

No one from Orange was available to comment on the vandalism last night, North Yorkshire Police are investigating the incident.