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The BBC's Lisa Holland
"Police were today surveying the damage"
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Sunday, 3 September, 2000, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Kennel manager condemns attack
Mark Bycroft
Mark Bycroft: Kennel hand absolutely petrified
The manager of hunt kennels which were raided by masked animal rights protesters has dismissed the gang as anarchists.

Mark Bycroft, who took his pregnant wife and 15-month-old daughter away from the three houses shortly before the attack, said the mob had no respect for "women, children, property or animals".

Around 30 people wearing balaclavas attacked the Old Surrey and Burstow Fox Hound Kennels at Felbridge, East Grinstead, Surrey, shortly after 1930BST on Saturday.

One police officer required hospital treatment after being sprayed in the face with CS gas.

They are not just anti-hunting, they are anti-everything and have an absolute disregard for the law

Mark Bycroft
Mr Bycroft said three vans and a Land Rover drove towards his property at around 1930 BST.

"They were all dressed in black and wearing balaclavas and masks," he said.

"They overpowered the two police officers, who had been warned they were on the way, shouted vile abuse and just began hurling rocks and bricks indiscriminately."

He said 17 windows at the three-house compound were smashed and a number of rocks thrown into kennels housing the hounds leaving glass scattered on the ground.

'Baying gang'

"We have an 18-year-old kennel hand living here who was absolutely petrified by this baying gang," he said.

"She was forced to hide at the back of the kennels."

"These people have no respect for anything. They are not just anti-hunting, they are anti-everything and have an absolute disregard for the law," he said.

"They are quite happy to terrify women and children in their own homes at night."

Surrey Police failed to make any arrests but have launched a full investigation into the attack.

A spokesman from the Hunt Saboteurs Association said the group had gone to the compound for a peaceful demonstration but were attacked with pickaxe handles.

'Deliberately run down'

Spokesman Dawn Preston said the demonstration was sparked following a incident on Friday morning when a hunt saboteur was seriously injured after he was struck by a vehicle while trying to stop huntsmen chasing foxes.

Some Hunt Saboteurs Association members alleged that Steve Christmas was deliberately run down by a 4x4 vehicle as he protested against the hunt's meeting at Warren Farm in Horsted Keynes, near Crawley, West Sussex.

Mr Christmas, from the Haywards Heath area, sustained serious injuries after the collision with a vehicle.

He is currently being treated for a broken pelvis and broken ribs at the intensive care unit of the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

The Countryside Alliance has condemned the protest.

Spokesman Simon Hart said: "Families were terrorised by balaclava-clad hooligans intent on causing trouble and taking their own law into their own hands.

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