Fox finds sanctuary in Blair's backyard

Click to follow
The Independent Online

At midnight last night, hunting with hounds became illegal. Earlier, among the thousands of hunting enthusiasts who took to the field for a final day of chase and vitriol, the South Durham Hunt spent part of the day in pursuit of a fox that has made its den in a field beside Tony Blair's constituency home in Trimdon.

At midnight last night, hunting with hounds became illegal. Earlier, among the thousands of hunting enthusiasts who took to the field for a final day of chase and vitriol, the South Durham Hunt spent part of the day in pursuit of a fox that has made its den in a field beside Tony Blair's constituency home in Trimdon.

Dubbed "Tony's Fox" by the hunt, which has been pursuing it for five years, the quarry once again escaped, going to ground in an allotment yards from the Prime Minister's home.

The master of the South Durham Hunt, Mark Shotton, 60, of South Wingate, who led 80 riders on the 15-mile chase, said: "We would love to catch him, but he gave us the slip again. He ran us all the way from Trimdon out to Teesside."

Elsewhere there were confrontations between pro- and anti-hunting groups.

At least one person was injured in clashes between animal rights activists and the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt in West Sussex. Police were questioning a number of people over the incident.

Chris Black, 18, from Worthing in West Sussex, who was one of 10 protesters tracking the hunt, said: "Six or eight saboteurs went over the wall, and were attacked by huntsmen with sticks. One woman has gone to hospital in Worthing."

The Labour MP Dan Norris, who opposed hunting, had cream thrown at him by hunt supporters before a television interview in the village of Badminton in the hunting heartland of South Gloucestershire. Mr Norris, MP for Wansdyke, was apparently forced out of the village. He told BBC Points West that a female member of his staff was punched but said he would not press charges.

Wanda Wyporska, spokeswoman for the League Against Cruel Sport, said the league would today start its "crime watch" programme, training monitors up and down the country to observe the hunt and alert police if they break the law.

"They say they are converting to drag hunting but have not had the time to re-train their hounds. We are worried there will be illegal hunting but our monitors will be there," Ms Wyporska said.