Protesters from an unknown animal welfare group have staged a demonstration at a Tesco deli counter.

Shoppers in Witham witnessed the peaceful protest from the group of about a dozen people while perusing the meat section of the Grove Centre store yesterday at around 2pm.

Police were called to the store after campaigners held graphic photographs of chickens and pigs and chanted about animal cruelty.

Don Barnard, 72, of Maldon Road, Witham, said: “There were a lot of people chanting about chickens and shouting "meat is murder".

“I was going to buy a chicken but then it changed my mind, so I went to get a few slices of beef but they started chanting about that instead.

“Tesco went in and had a few words and left them to it - they handled it quite well.”

Chris Philbin, 42, of Baker Way, Witham, said: “I didn’t know who they were or what group they were part of but Tesco was quite easy-going about it.

“As soon as people started getting their camera phones out, they strategically placed members of staff in front of the group.”

A spokesman for Tesco said that they asked a group of protesters to leave the store to ensure that their customers were not disrupted.

Essex police were called by Tesco staff at around 2.30pm and arrived to find the group leaving of their own accord.

No further action has been taken by the supermarket or police.