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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 12:12 GMT
Police condemn pro-hunt protest
Protesters clashed with mounted police officers
Protesters clashed with mounted police officers
A senior South Wales Police officer has condemned tactics used by pro-hunt demonstrators after clashes in Cardiff.

Four police officers were injured and three people were arrested during a protest outside an hotel where a Labour Party dinner was being held.

Eggs were thrown during the confrontation at the Holland House Hotel and a Welsh MP claimed he received homophobic insults.

Chief Superintendent Bob Evans said he was concerned at the aggression shown.

This has sadly introduced a new dynamic into the pro-hunt lobby in Wales
Chief Superintendent Bob Evans

Police - some in riot gear - surrounded the hotel in Newport Road and officers on horseback were brought in as the fundraising dinner took place.

Mr Evans - the divisional commander for Cardiff - said officers had acknowledged the campaigners' right to protest and had done their best to keep the disruption to other members of the public to a minimum.

'Unfortunately, factions within the crowd were intent on a non-peaceful response and caused considerable disruption," he said.

"At one stage, missiles were thrown and previously unseen levels of aggression were shown to police officers.

"This has sadly introduced a new dynamic into the pro-hunt lobby in Wales, detracting from the actions of those seeking to peacefully demonstrate. Injuries have occurred as a result, that is extremely concerning and regrettable."

"We didn't go along for a confrontation with the police
Mair Davies, Countryside Alliance
Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said he received homophobic insults.

"When I was trying to come in there were a large number of people shouting very unpleasant homophobic stuff at me," he told Radio Wales.

"One of the police officers was from an Asian family and she had all sorts of racist taunts.

"The irony was that people were carrying banners that said, 'Fight prejudice'. Unfortunately, I think that many of the people who were there showed their true colours."

Mr Bryant said the Countryside Alliance should rein in its members.

"The Countryside Alliance have got to get their house in order," he said.

"They organised the protest last night and they are responsible for the violence. They are doing their cause no good by this ugly violence.

Countryside Alliance protesters began arriving by coach at 1750 GMT.

South Wales Police said up to 250 people were involved when the protest was at its height.

Brian Hughes of Llangeinor Hunt
Hunt supporter Brian Hughes says he would break the law to hunt
Mair Hughes, of the Countryside Alliance, told Radio Wales that only a small number of those who attended had been intent on causing trouble.

"We didn't go along for a confrontation with the police," she said on Friday.

"The vast majority went along to hold placards and make a bit of noise. We just wanted to make our voices heard."

But there have been warnings that the protests will continue.

Brian Hughes, of Llangeinor Hunt based near Bridgend, was one of those who took part in the demonstration.

He said demonstrators would go to every event attended by government ministers in the run-up to the general election.

"We are going to make it as difficult as possible for any of the government ministers that visit Wales," he said.

"We have got enough resources to shut these roads if we want to but we don't want to alienate the public.

"We just feel that we should carry on peaceful protesting and target Members of Parliament that are against us."

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain - who has been a target for protesters - said there was no excuse for their behaviour.

"I condemn the violence and thuggery and appalling attacks on police," he said.

A policeman and protesters
Police officers monitored the protest on foot and on horseback
"The hunting community has got to sort these villains out because they are discrediting the cause."

In September, more than 100 pro-hunt campaigners carrying placards and blowing hunting horns demonstrated outside Mr Hain's Neath home.

A month later, the Neath MP was pelted with eggs on a visit to Oxford University when protesters stormed a meeting.

Police brought the campaigners to the ground and escorted Mr Hain from the building.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael has also been the subject of the pro-hunt lobby.

The Cardiff South and Penarth MP rearranged two official visits in September on police advice after protesters gathered outside the venues.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Pro-hunt demonstrators clash with police in Cardiff



SEE ALSO:
Hain hit with eggs in hunt demo
27 Oct 04 |  Politics



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