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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Hunt minister cancels second trip
Hunt campaigners
About 200 pro-hunt campaigners gathered in Weymouth
A fresh protest by pro-hunting campaigners has led rural affairs minister Alun Michael to cancel his second official visit in just two days.

Police advised him not to attend the launch of the Friends of The Jurassic Coast organisation in Weymouth, Dorset, on Monday when 200 protesters gathered.

He also withdrew from a walk on Sunday to mark new Right to Roam laws.

Denying that the countryside was a "no-go area" for ministers he said he did not want his visit to be overshadowed.

Mr Michael - who is responsible for steering the anti-hunt bill through parliament - attended the first part of his trip, at Durdle Door on the Purbeck Coast, but cancelled his visit to Weymouth.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael MP
It is not part of my purpose to allow the launch of this important trust to be hijacked by pro-hunting protesters just by my presence
Alun Michael
Dorset's Jurassic Coast is a Unesco World Heritage Site famed for its fossils.

Mr Michael said: "I have fulfilled my promise to Jim Knight MP to show my support for the World Heritage Site and the launch of this important new trust.

"On police advice about the difficulty of policing an event which included a vessel at the quayside and at sea, I have decided to withdraw from that part of the launch.

"It is not part of my purpose to allow the launch of this important trust to be hijacked by pro-hunting protesters just by my presence."

Will Templer, the Countryside Alliance's regional director for Wessex, said: "We are going to keep on hounding any minister that comes into the countryside.

"Everybody is here to express their anger and frustration at the government's attempt to ban hunting."

Mr Michael had been due to join walkers in the Peak district on Sunday to mark the opening up of 100,000 hectares of land, but cancelled due to threats of protests.




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