Stop pretending legalising fox hunting is about farming, says Queen's Brian May

The Queen guitarist says most fox hunters kill the animals 'for fun'.

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Indy Politics

Pro-hunt politicians should stop pretending that legalising fox hunting is about helping farmers, Queen guitarist Brian May has said.

In a television discussion with the former environment secretary Owen Paterson, Mr May objected to the suggestion that fox hunting was set to be legalised for agricultural reasons.

"You have got to stop pretending this is about farming," he said, speaking on Sky News.

"This is nothing to do with farming and I know a lot of farmers now and I can tell you, they don’t go around digging out foxes in their spare time to shoot them. 

"This is about, as you say, people rushing around the countryside torturing wild animals to death for fun, that’s what this is about and it is an absolute scam to pretend that this is about farming in the first place."

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Brian May is a well-known vegetarian

Mr Paterson however said "hard working farmers" were "having a tough time" looking after their livestock because of the law.

Mr May is a longstanding animal rights campaigner and is critical of both badger culling and fox hunting.

Over the weekend animal rights groups warned that the Government's proposals for relaxing the ban were more extensive than had been previously suggested.

“This is no simple amendment to the Hunting Act. The Government is trying to bring back hunting by deceit,” said Tom Quinn, campaigns director for the League Against Cruel Sports.

“Now we know what they are proposing, any pretence that the Government was trying to amend the law to enable better fox control has been blown out of the water.”

The Government could face defeat over the proposals if the SNP and Labour join together with enough Conservative rebels.

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Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, introduced the Badger Cull and supports fox hunting

MPs will get only 90 minutes to debate the ban on fox hunting before the vote, which was promised in the Conservative manifesto.

In March David Cameron pledged to hold a free vote on repealing the fox hunting ban if the Conservatives won the next election.

 

The PM, who has previously ridden with the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire, said he believed in the “freedom to hunt” and wanted fox hunting legalised.

Writing in the Countryside Alliance magazine, he criticised widespread negative attitudes to the illegal animal killings.

“There is definitely a rural way of life which a born and bred Londoner might struggle to understand," he wrote.

“I have always been a strong supporter of country sports. It is my firm belief that people should have the freedom to hunt, so I share the frustration that many people feel about the Hunting Act and the way it was brought in by the last government.”

Late last year anti-hunt Tories voiced worries that Mr Cameron would try to repeal the ban.

More than two dozen Tory MPs gave their backing to the Conservatives Against Fox campaign which works to challenge the pro-hunt lobby’s influence within the party.

Polling by YouGov conducted in January this year found that 51% of the population supported the current fox hunting ban, with only 33% opposed to it.

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