Joaquin Phoenix and Alicia Silverstone are pleading with the owners of a farm where goats were brutally attacked to hand the animals over to sanctuaries.

The Hollywood actors, together with singers Moby and Leona Lewis, Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch and Downton Abbey star Peter Egan, have signed an open letter to the farm, which is linked to the UK’s best-known goat milk producer, St Helen’s Farm.

Government, council and trading standards officials are investigating conditions at Far Marsh Farm in East Yorkshire, where three members of staff were sacked and one given a final warning after The Independent exposed shocking scenes of animal brutality behind closed doors.

Workers were secretly filmed punching, kicking and hitting goats with a pole; animals were also painfully slammed on their backs, had their tails twisted or were held by the neck.

“We ask you only to do the right thing – allow as many of your goats as possible to be rehomed to sanctuaries, and transition Far Marsh Farm away from animal farming to ensure that no others will ever be abused there again,” the letter says.

Lewis, who is vegan and trustee of an animal sanctuary in Essex, contacted Surge animal rights group, who had first received the footage, after reading The Independent‘s piece exposing the brutality.

Marks & Spencer and all the big supermarkets except Morrisons said they pulled St Helen’s Farm products, including milk, cheese and butter, from sale after seeing the footage.

Angus Wielkopolski, founder of Yorkshire Dairy Goats, which owns the farm, told The Independent last week he may have to close the 4,000-animal site if he cannot salvage its reputation.

But since then, Mr Wielkopolski has not been contactable, and the fate of the 4,000 animals is unknown.

The Independent is seeking his response to offers to rehome the goats in sanctuaries and to help him find ways to keep his business going without using animals.

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition also calling on Far Marsh Farm’s owners to put the goats in safe hands.

Read more at independent.co.uk