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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 19:26 GMT
Hunts hail Boxing Day turn-out
Supporters say more people are taking part in hunts
Campaigners claim 320,000 people took part in traditional Boxing Day hunt meets, saying the ban is unworkable.

Under the ban, dogs can still be used to follow a scent - but cannot be used to kill the fox.

But protesters also took to the countryside, saying the police should be doing more to enforce the legislation.

The Countryside Alliance said two hunts had re-formed while other meets had been joined by former supporters.

Hailing the strength of the Boxing Day turn-out as a success, campaigners for a repeal of the fox hunting law said the numbers who had attended meetings showed the ban was unworkable in England and Wales.

I am just about to go out with dozens of other families to watch and cheer on the local hunt as they meet this morning
Anthony Jeffrey, UK

Charlotte Fiander, spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said supporters regarded the legislation as an "unenforceable" law.

"Even the police don't seem to know what they're trying to uphold," she said.

"Everybody seems to be generally confused as to what's going on."

Across the UK, hunt organisers said their meetings had been well attended.

Some 2,000 people turned out to see the Beaufort Hunt in Gloucestershire, said organisers. The Beaufort has in the past been attended by members of the Royal Family.

The South Pembrokeshire Hunt saw 700 people turn out, including Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart.

But the RSPCA dismissed claims that the law was unworkable. "Those who think otherwise will find themselves in court," said a spokeswoman.

"We can't pick and choose which laws to obey. Calling for the law to be repealed was "a bit like saying the law against burglary isn't workable because people commit burglary.

"If some people choose to break the law it proves the need for enforcement."

'Systematic law-breaking'

Essex Police arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon at the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt; the man was later released without charge.

But League Against Cruel Sports spokesman Mike Hobday said "significant" law-breaking was coming from the hunts themselves.

"Systematic breaking of the law is a facet of hunting that is causing the police to be more concerned - more interested in what's happening," he said.

Mr Hobday said the league would work with the police - but was also planning to bring private prosecutions if necessary.

Lord Archer QC, a former solicitor general, and Anthony Scrivener QC, former chair of the Bar Council, have been advising the league which has established a team to look at bring prosecutions.

The Countryside Alliance's own legal challenge to the legislation is soon to be heard in the House of Lords.

Earlier in the year hunt supporters failed to get the lower courts to rule that the legislation breached human rights law, trading and employment regulations.

Concerns about illegal hunts

Trust may relax hunt regulations
05 Nov 06 |  Gloucestershire
Hunting: What happens next?
19 Feb 05 |  UK Politics

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