16 January 2001
Public warm to hunt vigil

By Philip Clarke

LONDONERS have been expressing support for Countryside Alliance protesters staging a vigil in Parliament Square ahead of Wednesdays vote (17 January) on whether to ban hunting with hounds.

“Its been wonderful,” demonstrator Hilary Chasteauneuf from the Hampshire Mink Hounds told FWi.

“Theres been a steady flow of Londoners coming to give us food parcels and even a tent. I think they feel a real affinity with minorities.”

Ms Chasteauneuf explained that the police had limited the demonstration to just six people at any one time.

But they were allowed to have any number of “visitors” at the foot of the statue of Winston Churchill, provided they stayed no more than 20 minutes.

“Weve had to tell all our members not to descend on Parliament Square tomorrow, though feelings are so high its going to be hard to stop them.”

She was also anticipating a strong turnout of anti-hunt demonstrators to coincide with the debate in the House of Commons.

Earlier in the day, agriculture minister Nick Brown confirmed he would be voting for a ban on hunting with hounds tomorrow.

He said he was not against “hunting” itself, either for foxes, birds or fish. It was the method he opposed. “You have to ask, would you like it to happen to you?”

Mr Brown said he had looked closely at the “middle way” option, of licensing hunts, but concluded it just wouldnt work.

“It is impossible to preserve the sport without preserving the cruelty,” he told FWi.

Ms Chasteauneuf insisted that hunting played a crucial role in the countryside, not least as a way of disposing of fallen stock.

“I do the flesh round every day, and we just cant cope with the numbers of fallen stock in Hampshire,” she said.