RESIDENTS living close to the Cerne Abbas Giant are angry with campaigners after the famous landmark was vandalised.

A man from the Fathers 4 Justice group, which campaigns against family law favouring mothers, is thought to be behind the 40ft penis on the National Trust site being painted purple.

The landmark was targeted overnight between Friday and Saturday by someone describing himself as the Westcountry's 'Purple Phantom'.

Cerne Abbas Parish Council chairman Peter Smith said: "This is particularly irritating because it has happened inside the enclosure that protects the giant.

"The land there is sacrosanct because it is a special site.

"We don't want people damaging it for obvious reasons."

Purple is the international colour for equality.

Written beside the giant were the words Read Family Court Hell' - a reference to a recently published book by Fathers 4 Justice campaigner Mark Harris.

The action follows a rash of purple doors being painted on to the offices of Cafcass, the court welfare service, in the Westcountry in recent weeks.

And it is not the first time the Cerne Abbas Giant has been targeted in the name of publicity.

In July cartoon character Homer Simpson was painted next to the giant to promote the new Simpsons film.

Mr Smith said residents had not objected to that because it had not damaged the 180ft carving - believed to aid fertility - and had brought more people to the area to visit.

A Fathers 4 Justice spokesman said: "We have no idea who this man is, but clearly he is a sympathiser to our cause, has read a book that has made him very angry. He sounds like a vigilante."