Fresh footage has emerged of violent clashes between anti-fox hunting campaigners and hunt supporters on Boxing Day.
Rival demonstrators clashed at the Atherstone Hunt in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire yesterday.
Hunts are now restricted to pursue a laid scent trail, but critics accuse them of flouting the law.
Crowds of locals turned out to support the hunt as well as at least 30 members of West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs, who oppose the event.
Footage shows clashes between anti-fox hunt campaigners and hunt supporters in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire yesterday
Fighting broke out after demonstrators turned up to the start of the Atherstone Hunt
Anti-hunt protesters made their views clear in the market square with a sign reading ‘For fox sake hunters, foxtrot off’.
Activists then shouted ‘shame on you’ as the horses and their riders entered the town’s square.
The protest then led to rows between the two groups, with footage posted online by the saboteurs group showing two women fighting as one grabs the other’s hair.
Other footage shows a man, allegedly one of the ‘hunt support’ team, kicking the cars of saboteurs and throwing eggs at windows.
A West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs spokesman said: ‘Boxing Day is the biggest day in the hunting calendar. It is totally outdated for them to continue hunting, and totally barbaric.
‘Of course it’s not acceptable for protesters to face violence just because they want to voice their disagreement with the hunt. But it’s not surprising.
‘If people are willing to be violent towards animals, it’s only a small step to being violent towards humans. One woman was injured after having her hair pulled out – but she’s OK now I believe.’
Footage posted online by saboteurs shows a man, said to be part of hunt support team, kicking the cars of demonstators
He was seen trying to open the doors of cars, which were pelted with liquid and eggs
The Atherston Hunt insists the event is well supported by locals and horses and hounds were taken to local nursing homes to entertain residents.
A spokesperson for Leicestershire Police said: ‘Police are carrying out enquiries after receiving reports of two assaults in Market Bosworth yesterday (26/12).
‘The incidents took place at around 11.15am in Market Place when the victims, a 38-year-old woman and a 64-year-old woman were assaulted.
‘The victims reported having had their hair pulled and a pair of spectacles damaged in the incident.
‘They sustained minor injuries not requiring hospital treatment. Enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the reports are continuing.
‘Officers have also been made aware of footage capturing an incident of criminal damage to a vehicle in Market Place yesterday.’
In Sussex scuffles broke out between anti-hunt protesters and hunt supporters as the Southdown and Eridge Foxhounds parade through Lewes on Boxing Day morning
In Wales violence flared near Newport as some supporters, lining the street to cheer on the start of a hunt, pushed back an forth with protesters until the altercation escalated to fierce kicking and shoving between the two sides.
What’s the law on fox-hunting and why do protests continue?
The law, introduced by Labour in 2004, bans the use of dogs to hunt foxes and other wild mammals in England and Wales.
Since fox hunting was outlawed in 2004, pursuit of live animals has been replaced by trail hunting, which sees hounds and riders follow a pre-laid scent such as fox urine.
Activists claim hunts flout the ban by pretending to lay false scents – in a practice known as trail hunting – only to set hounds on real foxes.
Chris Pitt, of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: ‘The hunts are behaving as they did before the fox hunting ban was introduced, killing thousands of foxes and sadly getting away with their brutal and barbaric ‘sport’.’
A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance insisted: ‘Hunts comply with the Hunting Act 2004.’
The hunt in Leicestershire was not the only event to see scenes of violence yesterday.
Scenes of chaos erupted in Elham, Kent, as a man in his 40s was hospitalised after allegedly being thrown in front of a passing car ‘that deliberately swerved’ before being punched and kicked by a group of hunt supporters.
And the group claimed a 19-year-old female demonstrator was allegedly punched in the face by a hunt supporter in Tenterden, while a band that had turned up to play reportedly had their equipment damaged.
Five police cars were called to break up the brawl, involving as many as 16 people, and a man was arrested on suspicion of assault, Kent Police said.
In Sussex scuffles broke out between anti-hunt protesters and hunt supporters as the Southdown and Eridge Foxhounds parade through Lewes on Boxing Day morning.
Trouble started when hunt supporters tried to grab the anti-hunt protester’s banners.
As they waved their banners in front of the riders, some hunt supporters tried to grab the placards leading to police stepping in to separate the two sides.
The fight scared horses making their way between the crowds and at one point onlookers were nearly trampled under the skittish animals.