ANIMAL rights campaigners are claiming victory after targeting two of Winchester's premier eateries.

Hotel du Vin on Southgate Street and The Wykeham Arms on Kingsgate Street, were visited by activists angry that foie gras had been served.

On October 14, protestors visited both establishments to hand out leaflets and gather signatures for a petition - collecting around 150. Activist Marjorie Pooley claims The Wykeham Arms and Hotel du Vin both reneged on previous agreements not to serve the controversial dish.

Head chef Matt Chorley subsequently approached protesters outside the Hotel Du Vin and produced a statement, accepted by the campaigners, that foie gras will no longer be served there. And on Friday (November 2), Jon Howard, manager of The Wykeham Arms, which was recently crowned Town Pub of the Year, said that foie gras was off the menu - but insisted there had been no climb-down over the issue.

“I spoke to the protestors about it and they asked me to promise that I would not have it on the menu again but I could not make that promise because it's a very popular dish.

“But I spoke to the group on Saturday (October 27) and agreed with them that we would sell what we had in stock. It was a very small side dish and we were just about at the end of that menu anyway,” he said.

Mrs Pooley said: “We can understand that the manager could not commit himself forever, but we have got what we wanted and we really think now that Winchester is foie gras-free, which we're very pleased about.”

Deputy general manager at the Hotel du Vin, Krisztina Grigoliat, said: “We have not had foie gras since July or August. We're not planning to put it back on the menu. We said to the protestors that as long as we have the current head chef, we won't have it on the menu.”

Foie gras is a delicacy popular in French cuisine and is produced from duck's liver. Controversy centres on gavage - the process of force-feeding the duck corn, which campaigners claim is inhumane.

The method is outlawed in several European countries but since most countries are still at liberty to import it, if not produce it, legislation has had minimal impact.