A man threatened with criminal prosecution after he ate a live goldfish has denied animal cruelty and said the RSPCA is wasting its time pursuing him.

Former youth worker Louis Cole, 28, who lives in Roehampton, is being investigated for animal cruelty by the RSPCA after it saw the latest film he uploaded on his Youtube channel.

In the video he smiles at the camera as he says he is about to eat his pet goldfish.

He bites it on the head while its tail wriggles and after retching a few times, he swallows the dead fish down before commenting that it tasted bitter.

Mr Cole told the Elmbridge Guardian he was against the cruel treatment of animals but compared a video of Bear Grylls, in which he said the TV explorer ate a live salmon, with his latest feat.

He said: “I had it in my possession for one hour. Up until eating it, I treated it well, humanely, and it did not suffer in any way.

“It died a quicker and more painless death than most fish that are eaten endure.”

He said: “I don’t ever torture animals on my channel and although they are killed for food it is as swiftly as I can. Some people complain about them being eaten alive.

“I guess I could stab them in the head but this would be no quicker or less painful than using my teeth.”

Mr Cole, who was brought up in Cobham, also said his videos on his Food For Louis Youtube channel had sparked debate about the ethics of eating meat.

“The welfare of these animals is often dreadful. I think some people don’t want to face the fact that to eat meat, animals have to die, often badly,” he said.

He also defended himself from claims he was simply aiming to garner publicity, saying: “This has never been a desperate attempt at fame and although it has drawn a lot of attention it wasn’t planned.”

So far he has eaten a live scorpion, tarantula, locusts, dead mice and a frog he found floating in an American river, but none of them were deemed protected as they were not vertebrates like a goldfish.

The maximum sentence for cruelty to animals is a fine of £20,000 or six months in prison.

The RSPCA said in a letter to Mr Cole, which he posted on his Facebook wall at the weekend saying “I’m in SERIOUS trouble!”, that he was being investigated for animal cruelty.

It said: “If we cannot speak to you on a voluntary basis, you give us no other choice than to request the police arrest you in order to interview you.”

But Mr Cole said: "I respect the work the RSPCA do and find it disappointing they are wasting their time pursuing this matter."