ANIMAL rights demonstrators involved in an angry scene in Bournemouth’s Beales store have insisted their protest was non-violent.

The department store’s chief executive, Tony Brown, has claimed his staff were “harassed” and “shaken” by Sunday’s protest against the cosmetics brand Mac.

One of the protesters, Anne Simons, said the demonstration was loud but peaceful and only became angry when a security guard grabbed a protester. She denied Mr Brown’s claim that the security guard was grabbed by the throat.

“We went into the store, we formed a circle, we were shouting and loudly making the point that Mac send their products to be tested on animals by proxy,” he said.

“On that particular day were stood in the circle and out of nowhere this security guard rushed over to our guy.”

Each side claims video footage of the ensuing scuffle bears out their version of events.

Ms Simons, a 55-year-old hairdresser, said: “We did not retaliate apart from verbally. We’re not bad people. We’re not violent people.”

She said the nine demonstrators were “just a small group of animal rights activists”. She added: “We’re a non-violent, non-confrontational group.”

The group were protesting about animal rights testing for Mac products sold in China, where it is a legal requirement. The company says it does not commission testing on animals but that some governments conduct it before allowing the company to sell its products.

Ms Simons said: “I certainly don’t go in these places to have a row with anybody. If you believe in something, sometimes you have to step up and make a bit of a stand.

“Someone has to stand up for the voiceless.”

Dorset Police has said protesters “left the vicinity peacefully” after Sunday’s protest. Two allegations of assault were made at the scene but neither of the alleged victims wanted to make a formal complaint, it said.