Pandemonium broke out this afternoon on a council estate in Oxford when Social Services removed a 'disturbed and abused' pet goldfish from its family home, in a bowl, on the sideboard, and took it into protective custody.
'This is outrageous,' said Jimmy Flagg, 19, a father of eight and the fish's rightful owner. 'These Social Services people have lost it altogether. Something ought to be done about this.'
Mr Flagg put up a fierce struggle in an attempt to prevent Social Services removing the goldfish but was overpowered by some burly policemen and could only look on helplessly as the family pet was taken into custody.
Neighbours, on hearing all the palaver going on came out in support of Mr Flagg, hurling insults, tomatoes, and old James Brown 45's at the Social Services and the police.
As the situation deteriorated, some men in black suits wearing sunglasses and carrying big sticks emerged from a bus and cleared the streets, pronto, with threats of violence and tins of rice pudding.
'You've not heard the last of this!' Mr Flagg shouted before retreating inside and slamming the door.
Letitia Gambino, a Social Services official said: 'I've never seen such a blatant abuse of fish welfare rights. The poor creature was swimming round and round in never ending circles, opening and closing its mouth all the time.
'To any trained Social Services official, this obviously signifies chronic distress. I am in no doubt that we have followed the correct procedures.'
We don't see what all the fuss was about quite frankly. Apart from the fact that the ooperation cost something in the region of £17,000.
For a fish.
More as we get it.