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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Hunt supporters begin vigil
Hunt members gather outside the Houses of Parliament
Protests will continue throughout the summer
Supporters of hunting are beginning a continuous vigil outside Parliament in London which is expected to last for several months.

Campaigners plan to establish a shelter next to the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in order to pressurise MPs as they decide the future of hunting with hounds in England and Wales

The move forms part of the Countryside Alliance's "Summer of Discontent" campaign, and comes amid fears that the sport may be banned.

In March, Rural Affairs minister Alun Michael announced plans to have a consultation on the future of hunting with hounds.

'Human cost'

Protesters participating in the vigil come from different hunts across the UK, and will remain in Parliament Square on a 24-hour shift basis.

The Alliance said its goal is to remind Parliamentarians of the human cost of banning the sport.

Other plans include submitting a daily petition to the prime minister and holding a huge march through London on 22 September.

Organisers expected about half a million people to attend the march.

The protests come as Scottish pro-hunt campaigners prepare for a court battle to try and overturn the ban which is due to come into effect in Scotland on 1 August.

A petition seeking a judicial review of the Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 has been lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Countryside Alliance said the new law would threaten the livelihoods of rural workers and breach their human rights.

See also:

14 Feb 02 | Scotland
Pro-hunt battle moves to courts
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Hunt compensation rejected
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Hunting: The arguments in Scotland
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Fox hunting: The Scottish bill
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