Poultry bosses have slammed the Sunday Mirror as lazy and deceptive following its ‘undercover investigation’ into the industry.

According to the British Poultry Council, the article was written by the press officer of animal welfare campaign group Hillside Animal Sanctury, a fact not made clear in the report.

Under the heading ‘Sunday Mirror Investigates’, the article, by Martin Coutts, alleged cruelty and neglect at a farm owned by PD Hook, contracted to 2 Sisters Food Group to supply Tesco, Kwik Save and KFC. The birds, many deformed and dying, were crammed into sheds in unbearable heat, it claimed.

BPC chief executive Peter Bradnock, said: “It’s incredible that this piece of propaganda can masquerade as objective journalism.” He said although the report claimed it ‘launched its probe with experts from the Hillside Animal Sanctuary’ it never makes clear Coutts’ connection with the group.

“The author has a vested interest in making it appalling in a bid to wring more money from the readers for his organisation. I can’t believe they even had the gall to ask for donations at the end as well.”

The article claimed one investigator made a secret film of his visit, but Bradnock said the Sunday Mirror had refused to show them the film. “Because of that, we have to question whether the video shows what the article is purporting.”

He added there were even doubts as to the validity of the photographs used. “We think the smaller pictures are just from the Hillside picture library and nothing to do with this farm.”