Fortnum & Mason 'linked to cruel foie gras footage'

Covert footage of a farmer apparently allowing his dog to torment a goose used in foie gras production has raised new questions about the welfare of animals supplied to the upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason.

The footage, showing a farmer who appeared in a promotional video for the retailer, was recorded in secret by the campaign group People for the Ethical Treamnent of Animals (Peta). It appears to contradict claims from the company, based in Piccadilly, central London, which claimed last week that it did not recognise the farm or "the practices they use".

Fortnums has vowed to continue selling foie gras, despite calls from animal rights groups to take the controversial product off the shelves.

Peta said the farm in its video was part of a co-operative in the Dordogne region of France which supplies Fortnums with foie gras.

The store claimed that Peta activists posed as staff in order to record incriminating footage to use in its campaign against sales of the delicacy. Foie gras is created by force-feeding geese with excessive amounts of grain and fat, producing a fatty, enlarged liver which is then eaten.

Fortums said last week that none of Peta's claims against it were true and insisted that the footage "was not taken at farms that supply Fortnum & Mason". It said it did "not recognise the pens on the farm, the farmers or the practices they use".

However, The Independent has seen fresh video evidence which appears to show that the original footage was shot in the same farm that featured in a promotional video with Fortnums' former managing director, Beverly Aspinall.

In that video, Ms Aspinall stated that the farm was one of the best examples in France "of geese that have incredibly good welfare", adding that the farmer treats geese with "an enormous amount of respect". In Peta's latest Peta recording, however, the farmer can apparently be seen holding a goose as his a dog torments it.

A spokesman for Fortnum & Mason said last night: "We continue to question the credence of the footage, which would appear to have been edited to meet [Peta's] particular aims."

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