Hunt protestors hound minister

ALUN MICHAEL, the rural affairs minister, has been forced to cancel several public engagements following protests by pro-hunt supporters, reports The Times.

On Sun (Sept 19) Mr Michael was due to attend the launch of the Countryside Rights of Way Act in the Peak District National Park but cancelled at the last minute on police advice.

On Mon (Sept 20) the minister was due to take a boat trip as part of a function on the  paddle steamer Waverley,  he was then due to tour the World Heritage coast by boat to Swanage.

The boat trip was cancelled after hunt supporters threatened to pursue him in a small flotilla of boats.

The police advised Mr Michael that it would be difficult to provide adequate security around the quayside and on the water.

Mr Michael told the paper he was “very disappointed” to have to withdraw from the events of the past few days.

“It is not part of my purpose to allow the launch of this important trust to be hijacked by pro-hunting protestors just by my presence,” he said.

Mr Michael said he felt particularly aggrieved because he had spent much of his own time trying to persuade Labour MPs to support a delay to the start of the ban that would allow people to adjust to the new legislation.

Mr Michael is also concerned with the “violence and rhetoric” he heard during the protests in Parliament Square on Wed (Sept 15).

He has raised these concerns in a letter to Countryside Alliance chairman, John Jackson, The Times reports.

In an unreserved reply to the minister Mr Jackson blamed the minister for the current situation.

“I have lost count of the times that I have told you that, if you did not keep your promise to address the question of hunting on principle and evidence, the countryside would erupt in fury. That is now happening,” said Mr Jackson.

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