Children and parents were left distressed and upset after a performer at a library literary festival appeared before them in rainbow coloured monkey costume with a rubber penis between his legs.

The Redbridge Libraries Summer Reading Challenge, held at Goodmayes Library on July 10, was designed to encourage children to get into reading.

The festival was marred by the appearance of graphic and inappropriately dressed performers.

A full investigation has been launched to pinpoint how Redbridge Vision – which operates leisure, library, culture, and park spaces on behalf of the council – allowed the performance to go ahead.

In a statement council leader Jas Athwal said he was “appalled” by the incident.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

“Completely inappropriate and deeply offensive performers were hired by independent contractor Vision who manage Redbridge libraries and leisure centres,” said cllr Athwal.

“As soon as I was made aware of the performers, I immediately contacted Vision and the event was stopped.”

The council has launched an investigation into how the performers were hired and to ensure the incidents is never repeated.

A spokesperson for Redbridge Libraries said: “During an event put on at the library today there was a performance by a Carnival Arts Company. Unfortunately one of the animal costumes was inappropriate which we were not aware of at the time of booking. We deeply apologise for the offence caused.

“Upon receiving complaints passed on by the Leader and Deputy Leader, we ceased the performance and are truly apologetic for the distress caused to residents. This will never happen again.”

Mandinga Arts, the company hired by Redbridge Vision, to put on the show, also apologised and said it “never intended to offend residents”.