'Punches thrown' at Boxing Day hunt in Wiltshire

LACOCK HUNT STILL FOR WEB / Credit: Matthew Stephen
Credit: Matthew Stephen

Violence reportedly broke out ahead of a planned hunt in a Wiltshire village today.

Tensions rose in Lacock, near Chippenham, as protesters and hunt saboteurs arrived before the annual Avon Vale Boxing Day Hunt.

Videos have circulated on social media appearing to show punches being thrown and large brawls taking place.

Credit: Matthew Stephen

The Hunt Saboteurs Association has accused hunters of "resorting to violence" on one of the biggest days in the hunting industry's calendar.

An HSA spokesperson said: "Fox hunters backs are against the wall and they're increasingly resorting to violence as the pressure increases.

"Boxing Day is the most prestigious day in the hunting calendar with the mainstream media watching on and still these violent thugs can't behave themselves for a few hours."

It is not yet clear how the fight broke out or who was directly involved.

A statement from the Avon Vale Hunt said: "The hunt has been made aware of an incident that occurred just after the hounds had left the meet in Lacock today.

"We do not know the circumstances but we do not condone violence even in the case of extreme provocation by anti-hunting protestors whose sole purpose is to antagonise those supporting a lawful activity.

"We do not know if any hunt supporters were involved but we would like to thank the many hundreds of people who peacefully attended today in support of our hounds."

A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: "We were aware of a planned local hunt in Lacock today (27/12) and officers attended at around 11am when concerns were raised about tensions between those involved in the hunt and protestors.

“Officers remained on the scene to manage the two groups and they had dispersed by around 12.30pm.

“At this stage no arrests have been made but our enquiries are continuing.”