POLICE officers and a helicopter were on the scene of horse trader James Gray's farm as Trading Standards officers investigated this week.

Police confirmed they were present to prevent a breach of the peace while photographs were being taken at Spindles Farm, in Chalk Lane, Hyde Heath, by council officers as part of Gray's ongoing appeal proceedings against conviction of animal cruelty charges last year.

A helicopter was flying above the village taking aerial photographs of the premises yesterday.

The investigation followed a site visit by Judge Christopher Tyrer on Monday, who sitting with two magistrates, is hearing the appeal case against Gray and other family members.

A police mobile CCTV van and marked police vehicles were present in Chalk Lane while officers guarded the gates to the farm during the afternoon.

A Thames Valley Police spokeswoman said: "We were there in support of Trading Standards who are conducting more investigations and taking photographs in relation to the appeal case."

A Buckinghamshire County Council spokeswoman confirmed the council's Trading Standards officers were on the site investigating the premises following information gained on Monday, but said she was currently unable to give further details due to the ongoing appeal.

James Gray, 46, his wife Julie, 42, and their daughters Cordelia, 21, of Spindles Farm, Chalk Lane, Hyde Heath, and Jodie, 27, of Park Road, Ashford, Middlesex, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, were last year found guilty of failing to ensure protected animals' welfare needs were met under the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

Gray and the teenage defendant were also found guilty of nine counts of causing unnecessary suffering. More than 100 horses were removed from the farm in January 2008 in one of the RSPCA's biggest investigations. Gray, who was banned from keeping horses upon sentencing, is currently permitted to keep them while legal proceedings are ongoing.

The appeal is is in its third week at Bicester Magistrates Court, sitting as Aylesbury Crown Court. It is expected to last up to six weeks.