Pro-hunt protests as court opens

PRO-HUNT protesters today stole the limelight from a day meant to honour Ipswich's new crown court.On the day the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, was officially opening the new crown court, around 150 protestors gathered outside the courthouse.

PRO-HUNT protesters today stole the limelight from a day meant to honour Ipswich's new crown court.

On the day the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, was officially opening the new crown court, around 150 protestors gathered outside the courthouse.

Clad in plaid and quilted jackets, the people - supporters of the Countryside Alliance and Families for Hunting - waved their placards and shouted in protest.

Liz Mort, regional director for the Countryside Alliance, said: "Around 150 to 200 people have come from Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.

"We want to ask Lord Falconer whether he would agree with majority of the House of Lords - and the majority of the Labour members of the House of Lords - that the way forward on the hunting issue is a sensible compromise and not to force through a ban.

"We also want to ask him whether using the parliament act for this sort of thing would be unconstitutional, inappropriate and very wrong."

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"A ban on hunting would affect everybody here. Some people here would lose their homes or their jobs if there is a ban. They work full-time looking after the hounds and live on the job.

"Something like £250 million comes to the rural economy from hunting.

"Ideally I would like to see the whole thing struck off the government agenda, and failing that a compromise."

John Ibbott, 51, of Chediston, said: "I employ two people and they would have to lose their jobs if hunting was banned."

Toni McCarthy, 53, of Wyverstone, added: "My son is the huntsman of the Essex and Suffolk hunt. He is 30 years old and would lose his job, his home and his social life if the hunt was banned."

Lord Falconer was not available for comment on the protest at the time, but he welcomed the new crown court.

Speaking at the opening, he said: "I am sure the new building will be a welcome and a significant new asset to Ipswich.

"Today marks a great step for justice in the area. This new court will achieve three things. It will give a boost to a part of town that is currently being regenerated.

"It will make life better for the dedicated body of staff who work here.

"And it will mean that we are better able to provide a modern, effective kind of justice, tailored to meet the needs of people who use this court every day.

"Suffolk now has crown court facilities fit for the 21st century."

N What do you think about the protest? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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