Brexit checks on animal and food products have been resumed at Larne port in Northern Ireland after a police investigation into alleged threats to staff concluded it was safe for them to return to work.

The police investigation followed Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s decision last week to remove twelve environmental health staff from the port “with immediate effect”, after reports of “an upsurge in sinister and menacing behaviour in recent weeks”.

At the same time Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) temporarily suspended physical inspections of products of animal origin at both Larne and Belfast ports in the interests of the well-being of staff “on the basis of information received”.

The suspension followed the appearance of graffiti in Larne on 21 January which said customs staff at the port were “targets”.

There were also claims that staff car registrations had been recorded.

However further investigation by both the police and council resulted in the staff returning to work and the food and produce checks being resumed at the end of last week.

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In a statement the council said: “Our threshold for risk when it comes to our staff is very low, and the health, safety and well-being of our workers remain our top priority.

It added: “Councillors unanimously agreed to withdraw inspection staff, prioritising their safety pending a threat assessment by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which was delivered on Thursday, with staff returning on Friday after Council’s risk assessment.

“This remains under review by Council in partnership with the PSNI and in correspondence with the trade unions.”

Checks on food and animal produce have also resumed at Belfast Port.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said there was nothing to indicate loyalist paramilitary involvement nor that registrations had been taken.

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly were told last week that former DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots was central to the decision to temporarily suspend physical checks. Poots, who stepped down from his post shortly after for medical reasons, had said he "was not convinced that the PSNI had a full understanding of the risk".