SECURITY guards were brought in to protect Ledbury Hunt participants from protesters at their traditional meeting today.

Despite some protesters with placards who were monitored by security, there was also a large number of people in support of the traditional Boxing Day meeting, this year taking place a day later than tradition.

Hereford Times: Ledbury hunt protestorsLedbury hunt protestors

The huntmaster in Ledbury thanked people for supporting their tradition, and stressed that they would be trail hunting and not fox hunting.


He thanked the town council for supporting the hunt, and said that they had been meeting in Ledbury for 175 years.

The huntmaster also thanked the shops for opening and encouraged people to shop locally.

He denied the hunt being ‘elitist’ and said that among them were lorry drivers, farmers, shepherds and doctors.

It was largely applause that could be heard as the hunt left Ledbury.

Hereford Times: Security guarded riders in LedburySecurity guarded riders in Ledbury

Ledbury Town Council voted six to four not to call on Herefordshire Council to block a bid by the Ledbury Hunt to have roads in the town closed for its riders and dogs earlier this month.

Tom Leeke of the Ledbury Hunt had earlier conceded the hunt had made “honest mistakes” in the past, but that the Boxing Day event was a historic and much-loved piece of pageantry in the town.

National animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has renewed its calls for hunting to be stopped on public land.

The charity’s calls have been echoed by Labour, who on Boxing Day also urged government departments such as the Ministry of Defence to end trail hunting licences on their land.

The charity said hunts claim to follow animal-based scent rather than chase foxes and other wild animals, but the conviction of Mark Hankinson, a senior hunting official, for encouraging or assisting others to break the Hunting Act 2004.

The charity said this showed that trail hunting is a “smokescreen” for old-fashioned illegal hunting.

Chris Luffingham, director of external affairs at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We know, and it has been found in court, that hunters use the excuse of so-called trail hunting to carry on as they always have.

“Their breathtaking arrogance in thinking the rules simply don’t apply to them cannot be tolerated by the general public any longer, who are getting very adept at seeing through the pathetic smokescreen of half truths and lies.

“Enough is enough."