Clashes hit last coursing meet

VIOLENCE erupted yesterday at Britain’s last major hare-coursing event before the sport is made illegal.

Animal rights protesters clashed with spectators at the final Waterloo Cup, which had been moved forward by a week to avoid the ban on hunting with dogs, which becomes law from Friday. Three people were arrested by police.

About 200 protesters attended the event in Great Altcar, Lancashire.

They were met by hundreds of jeering spectators who waved fox tails and threw missiles.

The missiles included a dismembered hare, bottles, cans, stones and dozens of earth clods. Two live fireworks were also thrown, but no-one was injured.

Mounted police used their horses to drive back a group of around 20 spectators who tried to charge at the protesters.

The three people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences and several more had to be restrained by police, who kept a high-profile presence of more than 60 officers.

Tony Moore, who led the protest on behalf of Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe, said: “This is not a day of jubilation for us. I just feel bad that it has taken so long to achieve this ban. We shouldn’t have to be here today.”

Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, watched the protest and was singled out for much of the verbal abuse.

He vowed that the Waterloo Cup would continue in some way.

He said: “I’m absolutely, 100% certain that the Waterloo Cup will take place in some form in 2006.”

Options to continue the sport could include muzzling the dogs or holding the event in Ireland.

Thirty-two courses were run yesterday and four hares were killed.

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