Anti-hunt lobby invited to show their support for current ban

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Hilary Benn will underline the government's opposition to hunting when he launches a campaign today aimed at supporting the current ban.

The move follows indications that the Conservative Party would repeal the ban if they won power at the next general election.

In a sign of how concerned the anti-hunting lobby is about the future of the ban, Mr Benn will spearhead an awareness-raising drive over Tory plans.

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The campaign, urging people to demonstrate their support at, comes as opponents of the 2004 anti-hunt law step up protests on their traditional Boxing Day outings today.

Conservative leader David Cameron has promised a free vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act, saying he believes it "doesn't work" and "doesn't make sense".

Labour claims Tory agriculture spokesman Jeremy Hunt is bankrolled by critics of the ban. He has described the law as "an affront to civil liberties" and "completely unworkable".

Under the act, which came into force in 2005, the hunting with dogs of all wild mammals is an offence.

However, it does not stop people riding with their dogs altogether. Today's hunts will follow artificial trails.