British imports of  fur have surged in the last year, the Evening Standard has reported.

Figures released at the request of Labour MP Lynne Jones showed that European and Far Eastern traders shipped pelts worth up to £7 million into Britain in 2003.

More than £40 million of fur-related garments entered the country, a figure nearly twice that of five years ago.

Most of the pelts were from minks, rabbits, or foxes, with £1m worth of fur coming from 'wild felines' and £5.9m from 'other' sources, which experts have said are mainly domestic animals.

The Standard quoted Andrew Butler, of People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as saying: 'These figures are shocking. There is a huge international trade in cat and dog fur, much of it coming from backyard suppliers in the Far East who are totally unregulated."

America, Australia, Italy, Greece, and Sweden have all barred the import of dog and cat furs, but there are as yet no equivalent limitations in Britain.

Most of the furs that arrive in Britain are from China, and only remain in the country for a short period of time.

A number of models that once shunned the use of real fur in fashion, such as Cindy Crawford, have recently been seen wearing it amidst attempts to revive its popularity in the west.