3 Dec 2008

Angry parents attack Santa at 'rip-off' grotto

10:26 pm on 3 December 2008

Angry parents have beaten up Santa and three of his elves after taking their children to visit a "rip-off" Christmas grotto in England.

More than 1,000 parents have complained to Britain's consumer watchdog about the Lapland New Forest in Dorset after branding it a "scam".

Visitors who forked out Stg 30 a ticket to enter the grotto were promised a Christmas wonderland where "dreams really do come true".

Instead they saw a nativity scene painted on a billboard in an empty paddock, husky dogs tied up outside their kennels in a muddy field, a broken ice rink and a Christmas market consisting of a tent with a few stalls inside.

When it came to having a picture taken with Santa, many families had to queue for hours.

One father was so angry he thumped Father Christmas, while three elves and security guards were also attacked in other incidents.

Former gate worker Adrian Wood said parents became angry when Santa refused to allow children to sit on his knee and charged an extra Stg 10 for a picture.

"The final straw for one dad came when after four hours he was told he would have to join another queue for his child to get a present - so he marched up and punched Santa on the chin," Mr Wood told The Sun.

Organiser Henry Mears blamed "a few groups of professional troublemakers" for problems.

"Like all people they like to get into queues and just generate a bit of aggravation," he told the BBC.