ANTI-HUNT protesters gathered outside the National Trust’s HQ in Swindon today in a bid to change the trust’s tune on trail hunting.

A motion to be proposed in the trust’s AGM on October 21 calls for all trail hunts to be banned from National Trust land.

Protestors urged National Trust members unable to attend the meeting to register for a postal, online, or proxy vote before the deadline on October 13.

The Hunting Act 2004 made fox hunting illegal in England. Trail hunting, which involves riders and hounds chasing a human-laid fox scent, is still legal.

But protestors from the League Against Cruel Sports, Badger Trust, and members of the National Trust claim trail hunting is a smokescreen for actual fox hunting.

William Morton, the public affairs officer for the League Against Cruel Sports who will be supporting the motion, said: “As repeatedly demonstrated by public opinion, hunting is cruel, unjust and unnecessary.

"The continuance of hunting under the guise of trail hunting is allowing people to continually flout the law.”

Peter Martin, chairman of the Badger Trust who will also in favour of the motion, added: “Hunting has been banned because it is a cruel sport. Parliament took the decision 13 years ago because people are disgusted by the idea of killing animals for fun.

“I’ve had the hunt outside my house in Tetbury. Last week I saw a fox shoot past my gate closely followed by six hounds and 40 or 50 riders. I didn’t even know the hunt was on that day.

"The Police said the huntsmen didn’t know they were chasing a fox.”

Hellen Beynon, a National Trust member and retired school teacher, is the main proposer of the motion and led the protest today.

When asked why she wanted this motion to pass she replied: “I saw what was happening on a trail hunt. Animals were being chased and it was very difficult to prove the abuse that was going on.

“When I rang the trust, they explained to me that the only way to change the trust’s outlook would be through a member’s resolution at the AGM.”

The protesting parties said their overall goal is to make trail hunting illegal.

Mr Morton said: “If we make trail hunting illegal, it would stop hunters who get caught using it as an alibi.

"Trail hunting is designed to mimic hunting as it existed pre-ban, with the exception that it gives them an excuse should they be caught catching a live animal.”

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We can confirm a small number of people gathered to protest outside our Heelis offices today. They handed out leaflets and had left by around 3pm.”

For any members wishing to vote in the AGM who cannot be present on October 21, can visit: