Fashion chain Benetton has hit back at a campaign by animal rights activists to stop the use of Australian merino wool in clothing.
 
Benetton said in a statement that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' campaign was both "unjustified and defamatory" and that the activist group was using Benetton's high-profile name to gain publicity for its campaigns.

PETA chose Benetton as its next large-scale campaign target after it failed to respond to previous pleas to cease using merino wool.

It began the latest campaign outside a Benetton store in New York by showing pictures and video footage of the process of mulesing - where flesh is cut from a lamb's hindquarters - which it argues is cruel and should be banned.

PETA is planning to hold similar demonstrations outside other Benetton stores in the US over the next few weeks.

Benetton, however, maintains that it does not use mulesing, and has no sheep breeding operations in Australia.