Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Prince's 'secret foxhunting link' denied
Foxhunting supporters are planning a major protest at Labour's conference
The chief executive of the Countryside Alliance has insisted there are no formal links between his organisation and Prince Charles.
According to Sunday's edition of The Observer, a leaked document from the organisation lists Charles among more than 30 of its most important backers - and suggests the prince wants his support kept secret.
"I understand that he took a decision in early 1997 that because the issue was becoming contentious he would remove himself from it and that seems to be a very wise decision indeed."
He added: "There are no formal ties whatsoever."
"But there is a difference between him publicly backing the issues and backing an organisation."
St James's Palace also moved to defuse the row over the Prince of Wales's alleged support.
"The prince is interested in countryside issues but he is not entering into any political debate."
The Countryside Alliance is planning to stage a major demonstration in Bournemouth on Tuesday, when Prime Minister Tony Blair will be addressing the Labour party conference.
Mr Burge, dismissed suggestions they were trying deliberately to disrupt the party gathering in Bournemouth.
He said: "It is going to be a legitimate, democratic form of protest, it is going to be peaceful, there will be lots of rural people with their families there.
"I am afraid it is only in North Korea and Stalinist Russia that you get people coming out in support of government.
"The nature of government is that people protest when they think you have got it wrong. It is legitimate. I think we are helping our cause, we are bringing home to the Government that there are ordinary working people in the countryside who deserve their support, deserve their respect, they deserve more than a few words, they deserve action."