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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 16:02 GMT
Hunt supporters 'defiant, determined'
By Sarah Mukherjee
BBC environment reporter in Warwickshire

Opening hunt of the 2004 hunt season
Some hunt supporters say they'll carry on regardless of any ban
The Warwickshire Hunt set off on Wednesday morning from the village of Shutford.

The atmosphere was jovial - a glass of port and plates of hot sausages were offered to the 100 or so people who attended on foot and on horseback.

But the mood was determined.

If they take away hunting we'd have nothing left anyway
Sam Butler
Master, Warwickshire hunt
"I can't speak for others, but I will continue to hunt and defy the ban," said Cliff Dare, vice-president of the Warwickshire Hunt Supporters Club and an army reservist.

He has seen action in Iraq and said he is disappointed the government that sent him there would ban hunting.

His view was shared by many of the other riders.

One hunt supporter, who has been following the hunt for many years, said: "I don't believe the government knows what sort of mess it's got itself into."

The pro-hunt lobby fully intends to challenge the ban on two counts.

Firstly, it will argue the Parliament Act is invalid. Secondly it will claim human rights legislation can be invoked, as a ban would deny them an income.

Standing firm

But regardless of all the legal moves, people here in Warwickshire are convinced hunting will continue for the foreseeable future.

That will be either legally or, if necessary, illegally.

Fox hounds
Banning hunting would rob people of their incomes, lobbyists say
Sam Butler, one of four joint masters of the Warwickshire hunt, said a ban would be unjust.

He said: "The countryside is fed up. We're a law-abiding community. I've never been in trouble in my life, but I'm prepared to stand firm on this.

"People here are very, very angry. This bill pleases no-one. It's just a law that is appeasing anti-hunting MPs."

He said he was prepared to go to jail if that was required to show how serious the countryside took the issue.

"If they take away hunting we'd have nothing left anyway. We'll keep going, " said Mr Butler.




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