Hunt supporters target Hoon's office

Police security surrounding MPs' offices was stepped up last night after Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, was warned his constituency office would be attacked by hunt supporters.

Mr Hoon was out of the country last night but his staff in Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, received an anonymous call from someone claiming to be a hunt supporter. "They threatened to attack Geoff's office within the next three weeks," said a member of staff. "It is quite frightening." Nottinghamshire Police told MPs they were taking the threats seriously and were increasing surveillance on their constituency offices.

Three other MPs named by the caller were Alan Simpson, the vice-chairman of the left-wing Campaign Group of Labour MPs; Paddy Tipping, who has played a prominent role in the Parliamentary campaign to ban hunting with dogs; and Tony Banks, the MP for West Ham, who led the anti-hunting campaign.

Mr Simpson said: "The caller phoned Geoff Hoon's constituency office and said one or all of our offices would be trashed. I don't know why they have picked Geoff Hoon - maybe it is just because he is a cabinet minister.

"Staff are fearful because it could be a serious threat. The police phoned us to say that there will immediately be a high level of surveillance.This is the threat of the same kind of violence that we saw on the streets outside Parliament on Wednesday. This is everything to do with thuggery and nothing to do with democracy."

Mr Banks told friends he had not had a direct threat to his office, but the caller is being taken seriously.

One hunt supporter said on BBC Radio yesterday that more spectacular protests were being planned after the invasion of the Commons, but she refused to give details.

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