Vegan activists have denied trespass and intimidation during a protest outside a poultry processing plant.

Gemma Barnes, 33, Christopher Bartley, 58, and Chantelle Leach, 37, all face charges relating to their participation in a demonstration at meat processors AD Harvey, in Bunwell, on November 1 last year.

Eastern Daily Press: Activists staged at protest at a poultry processing plant in BunwellActivists staged at protest at a poultry processing plant in Bunwell (Image: Animal Justice Project)

The protest at Beech Farm in the south Norfolk village drew dozens of placard wielding activists overseen by a large police presence.

Norwich Magistrates’ Court was told all three face a single offence of trespassing on land in relation to its “lawful activity, namely the running of an abattoir”. 

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They are accused of acting "together with others to intimidate people, obstructed vehicles entering the farm and trespassed on private land with the intention of obstructing or distributing lawful activity”.

Barnes, of no fixed abode but who formerly lived in St Leonards Road, Norwich; Leach, of Kirby Road in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex; and Bartley, of Seaview Chalet Park in Kessingland, all pleaded not guilty. 

Eastern Daily Press: Gemma Barnes and Christopher Bartley appeared at Norwich Magistrates' CourtGemma Barnes and Christopher Bartley appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court (Image: Newsquest)

All three do not deny participating in the demonstration but dispute the allegations, the court was told. 

They will stand trial at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on December 9.

They were given bail with conditions not to contact each other, not to post anything about the protest online and not to enter Bunwell.

READ MORE: Criminal charges brought against chicken factory over bad smell

A fourth defendant, Amelia Light, also faces a similar charge.

The protest was staged shortly after the group behind it, Animal Justice Project, which campaigns for the end of livestock and poultry farming, released shocking footage which it claimed showed staff mistreating hens.

Eastern Daily Press: The protest took place on World Vegan DayThe protest took place on World Vegan Day (Image: Animal Justice Project)

At the time, AD Harvey - which on its website claims to have "an unwavering dedication to the highest quality standards in animal welfare" - said two staff members no longer worked for the firm.

The Bunwell-based firm had its "RSPCA Assured" animal welfare status temporarily suspended pending investigations.