Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Huntsmen Pledge to Flout the Law

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Huntsmen Pledge to Flout the Law

Article excerpt

Byline: By Dave Black

Defiant foxhunting enthusiasts turned out in force at the weekend for the start of a new season ( vowing they will never be driven to ground by a Government ban on their threatened sport.

Local supporters took to the fells on Saturday to watch more than 50 riders with the historic Haydon Hunt set off from Newbrough in the Tyne Valley near Hexham for what could be their last-ever legal meet.

Hunts across the region are beginning the new season with a shared spirit of defiance, pledging to carry on enjoying their centuries-old sport in the face of an expected Government ban within months.

The House of Lords will this week return the Hunting Bill to the Commons where MPs are expected to reject any calls for a compromise which would allow hunts to continue under licence. Despite a countryside uprising in a bid to prevent a ban, backbench Labour MPs are demanding the use of the Parliament Act to enforce the will of the Commons, which has voted by a large majority to outlaw hunting with dogs.

Yesterday hunters in the North-East said they now accept that a ban will almost certainly come into force, but insisted they will ignore the new legislation and carry on as normal.

Their attitude was branded `appalling' by the League Against Cruel Sports, which said it fully expects the police to enforce a ban and arrest anyone caught flouting the new anti-cruelty law.

Farmer Andrew Gale, 38, master of the Haydon Hunt, told members and supporters on Saturday that he will be turning up for the first meet of the season this time next year, whether or not a hunting ban is in place. Yesterday he said: "Saturday was probably one of the best opening meets we have had in a long time and there was great support from local people. I was standing in the same place last year faced with a ban before the end of that season, but it didn't happen. …

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