More than 5,000 angry customers have sought advice on refunds arising from Lapland New Forest, it has been revealed.

The controversial Christmas theme park, where elves were seen fighting and Santa was spotted on a cigarette break, closed without notice last month, leaving tens of thousands of ticket-holders in the lurch.

Trading standards manager Ivan Hancock told the Daily Echo: “We are aware of more than 5,000 complaints and enquiries but even more people will have been affected.

“The company was set up last summer and the December venture was an unmitigated disaster, attracting a record number of calls for any consumer issue.” Mr Hancock added: “We hope to get some clarification about the status of Lapland New Forest Ltd by the end of next week.

“If the company goes into liquidation, creditors will go on to a list of people owed money. We are in touch with other enforcement agencies and the main focus of our investigation is whether there was a breach of trading standards legislation.

“We are investigating both the company and also individuals involved. The investigation is progressing well and we have made it a priority.

“We want to take legal action and are taking advice from a specialist consumer barrister and the Office of Fair Trading.”

On Friday the Daily Echo revealed how Lapland New Forest was refusing customers’ demands for refunds.

Ticket holders who paid £30 per person were told to write to the company’s Brighton address to get their money back.

Mr Hancock said: “People have received refunds; those who have paid more than £100 by credit card can seek redress from their card provider.

“If you have paid by debit card there is a chance of getting a full refund but it depends on the type of agreement you’ve got.

“We urge everyone else to put their complaint in writing. People have a contract with Lapland New Forest Ltd and their card providers.”

People who want a refund should call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 0506.