Hunt supporters vow to flout ban
PRO-HUNT supporters in East Anglia have vowed to defy a ban on hunting with dogs if the Government forces through new legislation.Hunts across the region warned of "enormous unrest" in the countryside as a date was announced for MPs to vote on the future of the field sport.
By Jonathan Barnes
PRO-HUNT supporters in East Anglia have vowed to defy a ban on hunting with dogs if the Government forces through new legislation.
Hunts across the region warned of "enormous unrest" in the countryside as a date was announced for MPs to vote on the future of the field sport.
The move, which could see an outright ban on hunting in two years, provides a threat to thousands of jobs and rural livelihoods.
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But huntsfolk vowed to continue with their sport regardless and said it would be their duty to ignore any ban.
Liz Mort, eastern region director of the Countryside Alliance, said: "It would be a very unjust law and it would be our duty to break it in order to draw attention to how unjust it is.
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"We wouldn't do it in secret – we would go to the police stations and say 'we've just been hunting, what are you going to do about it?'"
She added: "We are not going to sit down and accept this. Hundreds of thousands of people feel strong enough to stand up and be counted. There is enormous unrest and we're not going to say 'oh gosh, that's a shame' – we're going to do something about it."
Ms Mort said hunting was being used as a "political football" and insisted: "If they think delaying a ban is going to avoid a clash with supporters – of liberty, not just of hunting – they are sadly mistaken."
James Buckle, master of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, said: "There are a lot of people who are very, very passionate about their hunting and won't just accept this ridiculous legislation that is being forced upon them.
"I don't really understand the two year delay but the one good thing about it is that it gives us plenty of time to question the validity of the Parliament Act and to get our challenge together."
David Nunn, joint master of Easton Harriers, said: "I am very disappointed the Government is resorting to these measures but they haven't got the Bill through yet.
"We shall continue hunting and we will not accept a ban. We're not going to give up."
Roger Clark, joint master of the East Anglian Bloodhounds, said: "It's criminal that, with one stroke of a politician's pen, they can wipe out 250 years of history. I cannot believe how high this is on the Government's agenda."
Robin Vestey, joint master of Thurlow Foxhounds, accused the Government of "pure prejudice and bully boy tactics" over the bid to ban hunting.
"I think it shows a rather warped sense of priorities," he said, adding the group would deal with the issue of whether to defy a ban upon it becoming law.
"We will cross that bridge when we come to it, but I hope some common sense kicks in before we get that far," he added.
But Lawrie Payne, regional spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports, warned anti-hunt campaigners would be lobbying the police to make sure the law is obeyed if a ban is imposed.
"We will be putting pressure on the police to do their duty and we will be policing it ourselves.
"These people call themselves pillars of society so how can they say they are going to flout the laws of the land?"
Mr Payne said his only concern was the two-year delay before any outright ban comes into force.
"We hope there will be the shortest delay possible because every delay causes a lot of lives of animals still being hunted," he added.