Boxing Day hunts: Protests over fox deaths

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Image caption,
Nigel Farage was challenged by protesters at a hunt in Kent

Protesters have clashed with hunt supporters at Boxing Day meets over claims that foxes are still being killed for fun.

Events in Kent and Sussex were met with protests by animal-rights activists.

Nigel Farage was confronted by saboteurs while supporting a hunt in Chiddingstone, Kent.

He was told to "shut up" by a protester and called a "silly man" after he said that foxes were killed on the roads every day.

Fox hunting has been banned since 2004, but many organisations have turned to trail hunting, which involves laying an artificial scent for hounds to chase instead of a live animal.

More than 80 Boxing Day hunt meets were scheduled to take place across the UK, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Image caption,
Activists held a silent protest in Lewes, East Sussex

Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports said it would continue to lobby MPs to strengthen the Hunting Act and "remove loopholes" it claims allow hunts to get away with killing foxes for fun.

Mr Farage said: "All these packs are trail hunting. It's a day out with the horses and the dogs. Who could possibly object to that?"

Cee Wetton of the Hunt Saboteurs Association said: "They use it as a backstop, in case a fox gets killed and they say 'Oh we were following the trail, but the hounds got away from us and accidentally killed a fox'. Well, it's not good enough."

Mr Farage said: "How many foxes get killed on the road every day - shall we stop that too?"

Protester Dave Wetton responded: "Shut up you silly man."

Richard Gurney, senior master of the Old Surrey Burstow & West Kent Hunt, said: "It's not our intention to go out and hunt the fox.

"It's for a judge to decide, which they found very hard to do over the last 14 years, to differentiate between whether you were with the intent to kill that fox or whether it popped up as you were going across the countryside."

In Lewes, East Sussex, activists lined the streets for a silent protest as horse riders set off.

Ivan Massow, master of the Southdown & Eridge Hunt, said: "There is nothing untoward happening. It's a shame they want to kill us entirely."

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