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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 13:13 GMT
Welsh hunters join court battle
Llangeinor Hunt
Llangeinor Hunt supporters have been campaigning
Welsh pro-hunt supporters have travelled to London as the legal fight against a ban moves to the High Court.

Among them is Mair Hughes, the wife of a Rhondda farrier and hunt master, and one of three Countryside Alliance members applying for a judicial review.

They claim the Commons had no right to ban hunting and the 1949 Parliament Act - used by the Commons to overrule House of Lords objections - was unlawful.

But the UK Government said it was confident the ban would be upheld.

The ban is due to come into effect on 18 February.

Mrs Hughes, whose husband Brian is master of the Llangeinor Hunt, near Bridgend, said: "I'm going to London because my husband and my son are both farriers.

"The amount of work they could lose, should a hunt ban be implemented, would absolutely ruin our business.

"The lunatic fringe on the backbenches have been so selective about what they have picked out from the Burns report. The majority of the backbenchers have totally ignored the findings."

John Cooper, chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, said he was confident the challenge would fail.

"Now that the Hunting Act is on the statute books, we will not give in to the hunters' threats of civil disobedience, their intimidation of MPs, and the fact that they ride roughshod over ordinary people in the countryside, in order to continue their vile cruelty," said Mr Cooper.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, an anti-hunt campaigner, accused those against a ban of wasting the time of the courts.

"The people behind this are the establishment, the Hooray Harrys, the royal family," he said.

"They are very powerful and they are used to getting their own way.

"All they need to do is to lose the cruelty of the sport. They can carry on with all the jobs - all the farrier work, and all the rest of the jobs - if they move over to drag hunting."

Mr Flynn dismissed claims that hunting with dogs was the best form of keeping down the fox population.

"It is not about pest control," he said. "It is about the slow tormenting pursuit of a defenceless animal for sport."

Lord Elis-Thomas, presiding officer of the Welsh assembly, called for the assembly government to be able to make its own legislation on hunting.

The Plaid Cymru AM for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy said the assembly should be able to pass legislation which would allow some form of hunting in Wales. He argued that the way hunting was carried out in Wales on foot with dogs was different to most parts of England.

"There's a unique situation here where it would be appropriate for the assembly to create different legislation," said Lord Elis-Thomas.

How campaigners plan to challenge the Act

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