Hunt greeted with driving rain
Published 26/12/2012 | 13:42
After being pelted with accusations of animal cruelty for years from some campaigners, it was the driving wind and rain which proved the greatest obstacle for members of the East Cornwall Hunt on Boxing Day.
Just under 20 horses and riders trotted through the courtyard of the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor at the start of the traditional Boxing Day hunt, a favourite meet on the rural calendar for generations.
But despite the relentless rain - and comments in the Daily Telegraph from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson that there is no imminent prospect of a parliamentary vote on repealing the hunting ban - dozens of supporters came together to cheer on hunt master Graham Higgins and fellow riders.
They cheered and took photos while the riders quaffed refreshments from their stirrup cups, while several foxhounds waited restlessly for the hunt to begin from the famous old pub, the inspiration of Daphne du Maurier's novel of the same name.
Cabinet minister Mr Paterson, a keen supporter of country sports including hunting, told the newspaper there would only be a point in having a vote to repeal the Hunting Act - which came into force under a Labour administration in 2005 - if they were going to win it.
He went on: "It is our clear intention to have a free vote but we need to choose an appropriate moment."
Mr Higgins said he believed a repeal would happen eventually, adding: "The Hunting Act, as it stands now, is unworkable.
"It's a can of worms for the police, it's a can of worms for the courts, and it's a real headache for us to go about hunting legally.
"We want to keep the countryside pursuits going. It's tradition, hunting has been going on for hundreds of years, and it's important that we keep traditions going."
He added: "We want the repeal to happen, but we appreciate there's more important issues in the country which need to be addressed first before the Hunting Act is repealed."