AN MP has spoken out against a controversial circus which has set up in Orsett.

Angela Smith, MP for Basildon and East Thurrock, made her feelings known about the Great British Circus at the Labour Animals Welfare Society annual conference.

The circus became embroiled in controversy after footage of handlers allegedly beating elephants with metal hooks came to light. Videos shot by Animal Defenders International also showed elephants being chained up and having their ears pulled.

The MP, who is patron of the Captive Animals Protection Society and the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, said: “The recent reports of mistreatment in an animal circus travelling in Essex were deeply upsetting.

“It is important that we keep animal welfare high on the agenda. Animal Defenders reporters have produced video evidence of just how elephants trained – the pain caused to them to make them perform – that shows just why we have to implement the ban on wild animals in circuses that was expected after the passing of the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

“My own animal welfare newsletter goes out to over 600 constituents who have written to me about this issue”

Chris Barltrop, spokesman for the Great British Circus said: “It is false to think that an isolated incident is the norm. The very high standards of animal welfare are monitored by official inspectors at the highest level.

“Whether you like the idea of performing is up to you. ”