Fresh appeal to ‘scrap ban’ by joint master of Northamptonshire hunt

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A JOINT master of The Grafton Hunt used the biggest date in its calendar to issue a fresh call for the controversial hunting ban to be scrapped.

Colin Richmond-Watson led the call for the 2004 Hunting Act to be repealed before the Paulerspury-based hunt set off from Easton Neston, near Towcester, on its Boxing Day meet.

About 100 riders took part in the annual Stirrup Cup, which has been unable to take place the last two years due to snow and ice.

Thousands of spectators turned out to support the hunt, proving the ban has not had an effect on its popularity with supporters.

Mr Richmond-Watson said of the ban: “I think it’s an unjust, prejudiced, ineffective, unenforceable law that needs repealing but the reality is the country has other priorities, quite rightly so, and therefore it’s unlikely to be repealed in the near future, but we still think it right it should be repealed.”

The hunt set off at 11.30am to follow trails that had been laid around Wappenham.

Hunt secretary Philippa White said: “We certainly had an extremely good crowd.

“It was a very good day. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.”

About 250,000 people turned out to 300 Boxing Day meets across the country, seven years after the ban on hunting live foxes came into force.

The Countryside Alliance welcomed a recent statement from the Rt Hon Jim Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire and minister of state for agriculture and food, who said: “The current law simply doesn’t work. I personally am in favour of hunting with dogs and the Coalition Agreement clearly states that we will have a free vote on whether to repeal the Act when there is time in the Parliamentary calendar to do so.”

Countryside Alliance chief executive, Alice Barnard, described the Hunting Act as “expensive and failed”.