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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 11:27 GMT
Huntsman to fight cruel claim
Hunting legislation was left out of the Queen's Speech
A Devon huntsman has amassed 2m in pledges to bring a legal action against claims that hunting is cruel.

Huntsman Iain Harris launched an appeal for funds in the Horse and Hound magazine in the summer.

He feels that his character has been defamed by anti-hunt campaigners' claims that hunting is cruel.

He said the action would start in the New Year against a small number of individuals.

Mr Harris, of Tiverton, mid Devon, said: "It stemmed from my anger at people calling me cruel for going hunting.

"To call people cruel is a serious accusation.

"I have brought up a family and I have never committed a cruel act in my life."

The League Against Cruel Sports said it stood by its claim that hunting was cruel.

South West spokesman Ivor Annetts, said: "We stand by our claim that hunting is cruel and we look forward to putting our case in court."

A bill to ban fox hunting was absent in the Queen's Speech in November, prompting speculation it would be dropped.

A majority of MPs have backed a complete ban on hunting with dogs but the move has been rejected by peers.

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