PRO-HUNTING DEMONSTRATORS disrupted proceedings at the Labour Party conference inn Brighton on Tuesday – including Prime Minister Tony Blair’s address to delegates. Riot police intervened as rival groups of pro-hunting campaigners and hunt saboteurs clashed in the streets outside.
An estimated 8,000 people demonstrated, accompanied by up to 1,000 dogs.
The Prime Minister keynote speech to the conference was interrupted by protesters including a Countryside Alliance member who claimed he had only joined the Labour Party two days before.
Tom Leek, from Ledbury, Herefordshire, said he was protesting against the "rushing through" of the anti-hunting Bill. He was led away by police out of the back of the building into a waiting police car.
In Middle Street, around 100 yards away from the conference centre, police established a cordon to separate two crowds after pro-hunting protesters began noisily exchanging insults with a rival group in the crowded, narrow street.
They were seen pulling hunting campaigners away from the area and forcing marchers back towards Brighton Pier, away from the conference area, which prompted minor scuffles between some demonstrators and police officers.
Demonstrators had earlier thrown eggs at the conference centre and senior Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, one of the leaders of those calling for a hunting ban, was seen to be jostled by the protesters.
"He looked very white and shaken. He was physically jostled," said one delegate. Police security was already very tight for the annual Labour conference but extra officers were on duty for the rally.