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MP calls for curb on hunt ban protests

Pro-hunting campaigners could cause as much disruption as anarchists and should be treated by the police in the same way, a senior Labour MP said last week.

Labour MP Chris Mullin spoke out after reading an article in the Field magazine that appeared to endorse the use of sabotage tactics by those fighting the proposed ban on hunting. Mr Mullin, a former minister and now chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said he was sure most supporters of the Countryside Alliance were law-abiding.

But he has written to David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, about the article, which was written before a Countryside Alliance march planned in London on Sunday Sept 22. The article quoted a Countryside Action Network campaigner floating the idea that protesters could block every bridge in London. It suggested that another tactic might be to remove speed cameras from roads.

It added: "Suppose someone were to pull the plug out of a reservoir in Wales and run Birmingham short of water; suppose every motorway were blocked?"

Mr Mullin told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "If any of the anarchists who misbehaved on May Day were to start this sort of threat, I think it would be taken seriously. I'm anxious that the rule of law should apply as much to the so-called countryside protesters as it does to anarchists."

Mr Mullin said the Countryside Alliance should be asked to dissociate itself from these threats. Speaking on the same programme, Simon Hart, director of the Campaign for Hunting at the Countryside Alliance, said his organisation did not support illegal activity.

But Janet George, a spokesman for the Countryside Action Network and former press officer for the Countryside Alliance, said the alliance was being "a little too polite" in its dealings with the Government. "I don't think they really have any idea of how many people are involved and how angry they are," she said.