Huntsmen 'filmed on McCartney deer sanctuary'

Anti-hunt activists claimed today that they filmed huntsmen trespassing on Sir Paul McCartney's deer sanctuary.

The footage was taken by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), which members claim shows the Quantock Staghounds on Sir Paul's estate in St John's Wood, near Bampton in Somerset.

The hunters appear to chase a herd of deer across land owned by LACS, and then use two hounds to flush a stag out of St John's Wood.

Sir Paul bought the 87-acre pine wood with his late wife, Linda McCartney, in 1991 with the purpose of protecting the wild deer by providing an area where the staghounds could not enter.

Paul Tillsley and Graham Hyde, monitors for LACS, witnessed and recorded the alleged incident.

Mr Tillsley told the Western Daily Press: "From our point of view it was clear that the hunt was pursuing the stag.

"But more clear cut was the trespass that occurred in St John's Wood."

Avon and Somerset Police said they had not received any reports of illegal activity following the alleged incident last Thursday.

LACS plans to post the footage of the hunt on the video sharing website YouTube so the public could view it.

A LACS spokesman added: "The Quantock Staghound Hunt need to realise that more than three quarters of the public support the ban on hunting and have no appetite for it being repealed.

"It is time they took up something more healthy than chasing animals across the countryside in some perverse sense of fun."

James Hawthorne, assistant manager of the Quantock Staghound Hunt, rejected the allegations.

He said: "I can categorically say those dogs are not Quantock Staghounds. Hunt staff did not go into St John's on that day and we have not gone on to this land.

"There is a bridle path through the top of St John's, and on occasion we have ridden through it, but not this time. It is disappointing to be accused like this."