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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 20:50 GMT
Welsh pro-hunters will 'defy ban'
A pro-hunt protest
Pro-hunt campaigners believe a ban threatens their communities
Hunt supporters in Wales have said they are prepared to break the law in defiance of the ban on their activity.

They also claimed they would refuse to pay any fines if caught hunting, even if it meant going to prison.

The threat came as a Countryside Alliance delegation, including a woman from Rhondda, went to the High Court to seek a judicial review.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain defended the ban and said those breaking the law would "face the consequences".

Members of the Countryside Alliance - among them Rhondda farrier's wife Mair Hughes - lodged an application for a judicial review on Friday.

It claimed the UK government's use of the 1949 Parliament Act to force the Hunting Bill into law was invalid.
Unless the police have a helicopter or several dozen mounted policemen, they're never going to catch us
Brian Hughes, master of the Llangeinor Hunt

Hunters have vowed to flout the law and continue hunting even when the ban comes into force, which is likely to be in February.

Chris Davies, master of the Golden Valley Hunt, near Builth Wells, said some of his members would break the law.

"These people have probably never even had a parking fine in their lives.

"They are upstanding members of the community who are being turned into criminals. It's absolutely ludicrous," he said.

Brian Hughes, master of the Llangeinor Hunt, based near Bridgend, said: "If I've got to go to prison, I will have to go to prison.

"But unless they (the police) have got a helicopter or several dozen mounted policemen, they're never going to catch us."

Pro-hunt farmer Dilwyn Thomas, whose farm near Bridgend is crossed by the main Swansea to London railway line, said he would protest against the ban by refusing access to maintenance workers.
Hunt master Chris Davies
Hunt master Chris Davies said the ban is "ludicrous"

But not all farmers supported hunting.

Michael Squires, from Paxton in the Tywi valley, said: "I don't see (hunting) as an inherent or necessary part of farming.

"I don't regard the fox as being the problem that the pro-hunting people make out.

"There's quite a lot of invention about that to my mind," said Mr Squires.

Neath MP Mr Hain and Alun Michael, rural affairs minister and MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, are both protected by extra security after they were subjected to attacks by pro-hunt protesters before the Commons vote on the ban.

Despite what he described as "violence and thuggery", Mr Hain insisted "the law will prevail".

"People have the right to protest although, if they break the law, they have to face the consequences," he said.

"There is in the midst of the (pro-hunt community) a very angry and embittered minority who are likely to be very violent and have actually displayed that towards me.

"That's not acceptable and we aren't going to be intimidated or bullied by such violence."

Alastair McWhirter, who speaks on hunting for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said police forces would only make arrests if they actually caught hunts in the act of chasing animals.

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