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Police launch investigation into Kurt Zouma after West Ham star is caught kicking cat in video

Daily Mail Online

Kurt Zouma’s apology in full:

In a statement sent out to the media, Zouma said in a statement: ‘I want to apologise for my actions. 

‘There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.

‘I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. 

‘I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.

‘They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.’

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Police have launched an investigation into Premier League star Kurt Zouma after he was caught kicking a cat and laughing.

The star has today apologised after being given a dressing down by West Ham bosses over a shocking video showing him kicking and slapping a Bengal cat.

In a grovelling statement, the 27-year-old, who only joined the east London club from Chelsea in a £29.8million deal in the summer, said he was ‘deeply sorry’ over the incident and insisted his cats were ‘loved and cherished’.

The apology comes as his club side issued their own statement, in which they ‘unreservedly condemned’ the defender’s actions.

However, the defender is in West Ham’s starting line up in the Premier League tonight against Watford. 

But the footballer is not yet off the hook, and is facing a joint police and RSPCA animal cruelty investigation. 

Essex police said: ‘We are aware of a video circulating on social media relating to an incident involving a cat which members of our communities may find distressing.

‘We have recently been made aware that this incident may have taken place in Essex and we are liaising with the RSPCA and urgent enquiries are ongoing.’

The RSPCA, which has the power to prosecute in animal welfare cases, said it was ‘aware’ of the ‘very upsetting footage’. 

RSPCA bosses today refused to say if a probe had been launched, instead saying it would investigate if a ‘complaint is made’ and it is ‘necessary’.

Social media users meanwhile have taken to Twitter to put pressure on the RSPCA to investigate.

And a petition calling for the charity to take action against the French international has also been launched. It has already been signed more than 10,000 times. 

The RSPCA, whose prosecutions carry a maximum sentence of five-years in prison for the most serious of offences, would not confirm the receipt of any official complaints that would lead to an investigation.

The charity however say it had received ‘lots of messages on social media’ and other channels about the video, which was taken on Sunday – the day after Zouma appeared for the club in their FA Cup victory over non-league Kidderminster Harriers. 

RSPCA bosses urged people only to come forward to them if they had ‘first hand information’ about the incident. 

Users on social media also flocked online in droves to express their disgust that the defender was named in West Ham’s starting line up against Watford tonight.

Zouma was booed almost every time he touched the ball during the match by both sets of supporters. When he was on the receiving end of a tough challenge and started limping Watford’s fans chanted ‘that’s how your cat feels’.

Zouma got the last touch in the match, which finished 1-0 to West Ham. 

Today, addressing the video in a statement, the West Ham defender said: ‘I want to apologise for my actions.

The Snapchat video, captioned with 'Sa commence' showed Zouma kicking the cat across his kitchen floor The Snapchat video, captioned with 'Sa commence' showed Zouma kicking the cat across his kitchen floor

The Snapchat video, captioned with ‘Sa commence’ showed Zouma kicking the cat across his kitchen floor

A separate clip also showed the West Ham defender slapping the cat out of a child's hands A separate clip also showed the West Ham defender slapping the cat out of a child's hands

A separate clip also showed the West Ham defender slapping the cat out of a child’s hands

Kurt Zouma could reportedly be prosecuted within days because the RSPCA is handling their investigation into his cat-kicking outburst 'at an incredible pace' Kurt Zouma could reportedly be prosecuted within days because the RSPCA is handling their investigation into his cat-kicking outburst 'at an incredible pace'

In a grovelling statement, the 27-year-old (pictured), who only joined the east London club from Chelsea in a £29.8million deal in the summer, said he was ‘deeply sorry’ over the incident and insisted his cats were ‘loved and cherished’ 

‘There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret. I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. 

‘I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.

‘They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.’

West Ham’s statement on Kurt Zouma in full: 

‘West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated.

‘We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.’

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Zouma was said to have been angered after the cat caused a mess inside his house.

West Ham have said the club will ‘deal with the matter internally’. In a short statement, the Premier League club said: ‘West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of Kurt Zouma in the video that has circulated.

‘We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.’  

It comes as social media users today flooded Twitter with complaints about the video, urging the RSPCA to take action.

One Twitter user even labelled her post an ‘official complaint’ and copied in the charity. It is not clear if this counts as an official complaint.

The Twitter user wrote: ‘Hi RSPCA_official. I am logging an official complaint about the clear case of animal cruelty that has been carried out by Kurt Zouma in a video posted on Snapchat. 

‘Please remove this cat and any other animals from this person’s household ASAP.’

Another wrote: ‘RSPCA_official. Are you going to investigate this idiot?’ 

Susan Hall, a Conservative London Assembly Member, copying in both Kurt Zouma and the RSPCA, added: ‘Kurt Zouma should never be allowed to own an animal again. Disgusting, unforgivable behavior.’ 

Meanwhile a petition calling on the RSPCA to take action has now been launched. The Change.Org petition has already been signed more than 30,000 times.  

Kurt Zouma celebrates with teammates Lanzini and Bowen, who scored the match-winner. Zouma got the last touch in the match, which finished 1-0 to West Ham against Watford Kurt Zouma celebrates with teammates Lanzini and Bowen, who scored the match-winner. Zouma got the last touch in the match, which finished 1-0 to West Ham against Watford

Kurt Zouma celebrates with teammates Lanzini and Bowen, who scored the match-winner. Zouma got the last touch in the match, which finished 1-0 to West Ham against Watford

West Ham's Kurt Zouma controls the ball during a Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at the London stadium on Tuesday West Ham's Kurt Zouma controls the ball during a Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at the London stadium on Tuesday

West Ham’s Kurt Zouma controls the ball during a Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at the London stadium on Tuesday

The West Ham defender faced boos whenever he touched the ball as the Hammers played the Hornets The West Ham defender faced boos whenever he touched the ball as the Hammers played the Hornets

The West Ham defender faced boos whenever he touched the ball as the Hammers played the Hornets

When Zouma was on the receiving end of a particularly tough challenge, fans started singing 'that's how your cat feels' When Zouma was on the receiving end of a particularly tough challenge, fans started singing 'that's how your cat feels'

When Zouma was on the receiving end of a particularly tough challenge, fans started singing ‘that’s how your cat feels’

French international Zouma cut a forlorn figure during the first half of the match today French international Zouma cut a forlorn figure during the first half of the match today

French international Zouma cut a forlorn figure during the first half of the match today

Centre back Zouma was named in West Ham's starting line up as the Hammers faced Watford in the Premier League Centre back Zouma was named in West Ham's starting line up as the Hammers faced Watford in the Premier League

Centre back Zouma was named in West Ham’s starting line up as the Hammers faced Watford in the Premier League

Even the parody account for the Downing Street cat, Larry, expressed his disgust at the club starting Zouma in West Ham's match against Watford on Tuesday Even the parody account for the Downing Street cat, Larry, expressed his disgust at the club starting Zouma in West Ham's match against Watford on Tuesday

Even the parody account for the Downing Street cat, Larry, expressed his disgust at the club starting Zouma in West Ham’s match against Watford on Tuesday

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: ‘This is a very upsetting video. It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise. 

‘We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare.’

Why would the RSPCA investigate instead of the police?

Investigations into animal welfare incidents are generally led by the RSPCA.

The charity has a long established expertise in both the investigation and prosecution of cases involving animal welfare and has built up a useful body of precedent and case law over the years.

However they can call in police and local council officials to help with their investigations.

County Council Trading Standards, for instance, may investigate instances involving farmed animals. 

Cases put forward to the courts by the RSPCA are done so as private prosecutions – which mean they are not put forward by the CPS.

They are brought under the Animal Welfare Act. Last year the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty was raised from six months to five years.

Last year it was reported that the RSPCA could end the practice of private prosecution and turn over its files to the Crown Prosecution Service instead

The charity said the move would allow it to continue its ‘frontline work’. 

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