Rocker May leads Badger cull demo
Thousands of people decked in black and white clothing have marched on Westminster to call for an end to plans for a badger cull.
Rock star Brian May led around 2,000 animal welfare supporters - many wearing cardboard badger masks - as they chanted "stop the cull" in protest at pilots in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset - two bovine TB hot spots.
The pilot culls aim to ensure free-running badgers can be killed humanely, with marksmen observed by independent experts to check they are killing the protected animal swiftly, and post-mortem examinations carried out to assess speed of death.
They will also assess whether sufficient badgers can be killed in an area to have an effect in reducing TB in cattle, following a long-term study which found that culling 70% of badgers in an area could reduce the disease in herds by 16%.
But animal welfare campaigners say the scientific evidence, public support and - crucially - financial costs all favour an alternative to the cull. Labour, who oppose the Government-sanctioned plan, have tabled an Opposition Day debate for Wednesday.
Speaking after the protest, Mr May called on the Prime Minister to reverse the decision for the cull to go ahead.
The Queen guitarist said: "If the Government don't listen to us today the pressure will still be there.
"I think it would be easier for David Cameron to cancel it at this point, with some grace and clearly for the public good. I don't think there would be any shame in cancelling the policy because new evidence has come to light.
"It's not going to save money. I'm not the person who cares about money, I care about everything else. There is no scientific justification for it, there is no public backing for it, there's no moral grounds - but if it's not going to save the public money either then surely the foundations for this cull will disappear."
The march - a few streets away from clashes between BNP and anti-fascist campaigners outside Parliament - saw young children leading chants, while older supporters also made their voices heard with loudhailers as they wound through Westminster in a stream of black and white.