Commons plot was hatched on the back of an envelope

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Indy Politics

The plot to storm the House of Commons was hatched the previous day "on the back of an envelope", according to one of the eight protesters arrested for the breach of security.

The plot to storm the House of Commons was hatched the previous day "on the back of an envelope", according to one of the eight protesters arrested for the breach of security.

David Redvers, 34, who was released on bail early yesterday along with Otis Ferry, John Holliday, Robert Thame, Luke Tomlinson, Andrew Elliott, Richard Wakeham and Nick Wood, described security at the chamber as "risible" and said the plotters had given themselves a one-in-a-thousand chance of success. Mr Redvers, who works at a stud farm in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We got there like odds-on certainties." He added that he would "do it again tomorrow" after being released from police custody.

He categorically dismissed reports that the group had received any inside help. "The first I heard of it was the morning before. It was literally put together very, very quickly by eight people.

"We just wanted to make a point and make it as strongly as we could, but it was put together literally on the back of an envelope 24 hours before. We wanted to show the depth of feeling among people who have never had any trouble with the law whatsoever."

Mr Redvers said he wanted to show how "eight not particularly intelligent people could make a protest as strong as this" and said he had no regrets over the security crisis.

"If people lose their jobs as a result of what we did then I'm truly sorry, but there are up to 10,000 people who will lose their jobs if hunting is banned."

Mr Redvers, who says he has hunted all his life, said he and his fellow protesters were not stopped at any point despite going through "a large entrance with lots of people".

Questioned about how the protesters knew their way around the labyrinthine corridors without inside help, he said: "That will all come out but it was frighteningly simple."

His solicitor, Jeff Hyde, said the scheme had been "hare-brained" and had involved only a basic level of organisation which amounted to "phone calls between some mates coming down to London. "It was a joke, a jape. The planning was last-minute and haphazard. It was astounding that they could have got in with no professional planning," he added.

Meanwhile, another of the arrested men, John Holliday, 38, a member of the Ledbury Hunt in Herefordshire, travelled through the night from London to attend a 6am hunt, and was due to attend a hunt today as part of a local festival.

Donald Haden, a former master of the Ledbury Hunt, said Mr Holliday had become a "local hero" and was warmly welcomed by the close-knit hunting community.

"He got no sleep whatsoever. He not only went to the hunt but also to a funeral afterwards to blow his horn as the coffin was lowered to the grave, sounding the same note as when a fox has gone to ground.

"He's going to be a local hero for years to come. We look up to him and admire him for what he has done."

Out of the eight who were arrested after the breach of security, Mr Holliday is most likely to lose his livelihood when the ban comes into force in 2006. He is a professional huntsman employed by the Ledbury Hunt and would "lose his home, his job and his whole career", according to Mr Haden.

The point-to-point jockey Richard Wakeham, 36, is from an aristocratic family in Yorkshire. His parents said they were proud of their son.

Marcia Wakeham, 63, who lives on the imposing Braham Estate, said she was unaware of any plans to infiltrate the Commons, and confessed she had been worried about him. I rang him up to tell him I was watching the protest on television but he didn't answer his phone; he must have been on site by then. I am proud of him because I think what is happening is quite wrong. We all do. He has done wrong and will have to take the consequences, but it has gone beyond hunting now, it's about civil liberties. That's what people fought wars for - to be free."

Mr Wakeham's father, Anthony, said he had not spoken to his son since the protest but he intended to congratulate him. He added: "I think he, like thousands and thousands if other people in the countryside, feel that this law is dishonest and that he has a right to protest."

Charles Gundry, master of the Middleton Hunt and a friend of Mr Wakeham, said his actions seemed "out of character."

Otis Ferry, 21, who is the junior joint master of the South Shropshire Hunt and son of the singer Bryan Ferry, was preparing for a hunt today. Caroline Foster, joint master of the hunt, said: "I'm sure he will have a hero's welcome. We are all very proud of him."

Andrew Elliott, 40, a member of the Ledbury Hunt, who has previously been employed as a professional huntsman and now works as a manager at the bloodstock department at Brightwells auctioneers, arrived at his office at 7.30am yesterday, only hours after his release from jail.

He attended a horse sale in Leominster, Herefordshire, and is due to work today and tomorrow at a weekend equine event.

Terry Court, director of Brightwells, said that Mr Elliott, who joined the firm more than 12 years ago, was passionate about countryside issues. "We're a small team and we wanted to make sure he was all right. He has a passion for the countryside and for hunting," he said.