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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 11:09 GMT
Pro-hunters in Angel rallying call
Hunting banner draped over the Angel of the North
The banner was 40-metres in length
A huge banner has been draped from one of Britain's largest sculptures by pro-hunt campaigners in an attempt to rally support for their cause.

About 100 members of the Real CA hung their message over the wings of the Angel of the North, in Gateshead, on Thursday.

Two riggers climbed the 65ft sculpture to unveil a 40-metre long and 10-metre high red banner which read "love hunting join our war".

The banner was unveiled at 0700 GMT as dawn was breaking behind the huge metal structure.

The view was stunning and we could see the traffic on the A1 slowing down and there was plenty of beeping

Ned Baring, rigger

It was taken down after an hour as rush hour traffic began to back up on the A1.

Edward Duke, one of the organisers, said the protest was to show opposition to proposed amendments to the hunting Bill currently going through Parliament.

"This Bill is now well through committee stage and has become nothing more than a back door ban on hunting.

"As it stands, the Bill now makes a sad mockery of minister Alun Michael's pledge to base any hunting legislation clearly 'on principle and evidence'.

"The hunting community has done everything to co-operate with the minister on this issue but, sadly, it is apparent that he is prepared to betray the countryside's trust."

Criminal charges

The pre-dawn campaign was organised and funded by the Real CA, an informal group of hunt supporters.

Fifty people spent eight weeks making the banner and the event itself took four months to prepare.

Mr Duke said the organisers had taken police advice and agreed to take the banner down to avoid any possible criminal charges.

The banner was put up by two professional riggers from the music industry who offered their services for free.

Ned Baring, from London, said: "The view was stunning and we could see the traffic on the A1 slowing down and there was plenty of beeping."


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