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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Lib Dem row over hunt 'violence'
Peter Black AM and Lembit Opik MP
Peter Black, left, and Lembit Opik, differ on hunting
A Liberal Democrat assembly member has criticised the leader of his own party in Wales for his reported claim that a ban on hunting with dogs could lead to violence.

As MPs debated the hunting issue, Peter Black described Lembit Ípik's comments as a "disgrace".

Mr Black wrote on his website that he should "withdraw" them.

But Mr Ípik said his warning was "a world away" from saying a ban would "justify civil disobedience".

In an article in the Western Mail, the MP for Montgomeryshire, who is also co-chair of the Middle Way Group on hunting, was quoted as saying that young men would resort to violence if "the only way of life they know" was criminalised.

Others, he was reported to have said, would risk imprisonment or heavy fines to defy the ban.

He should call me if he has issues about it
Lembit Ípik MP
It was also reported that he condemned violence and illegal acts - but warned civil unrest and even targeted violence would follow a ban because there was nothing left to hold it in check.

In response South Wales West AM Mr Black wrote: "Although Lembit condemns violence and illegal acts his warning that civil unrest and even targeted violence will follow a ban on hunting with hounds effectively amounts to an explicit threat on behalf of the fox-killers.

"It is not a position that any responsible politician should take."

He added that Mr Ípik was not speaking on behalf of the party as a whole.

"In saying that he believes that such a thing could happen. Lembit has got off the fence and effectively issued a call to arms."

'Animal suffering'

Mr Ípik responded by saying that the AM needed to remain "calm".

"He should call me if he has issues about it.

"My job here in parliament is to try and explain that a ban on hunting will increase animal suffering and that is a world apart from saying that a ban on hunting with dogs will justify civil disobedience.

"Peter Black's opposition to hunting is well known. I totally disagree with him on that but he's entitled to have that view.

"But I'm not quite sure what he's asking me to withdraw.

"I don't think it's good to have targeted violence, my concern is that this hunting bill is wrong.

"I'm not the kind of person who supports violence in the aid of a political cause in this country," he added.



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