A POLICE officer has been cleared of hitting a pro-hunt supporter with a baton during a march against the hunting ban.

Tim Grant was acquitted at Southwark Crown Court of striking Kate Lovelace, of Marlborough, during the demonstration attended by about 10,000 people.

Miss Lovelace suffered a bloody nose, cut lip and bruising during the fracas.

But a jury took just over half an hour to find PC Grant, 38, not guilty.

During the trial, it was alleged that PC Grant had hit Miss Lovelace who rides with the South Dorset Hunt in the face during the protest outside Parliament.

She was one of several people injured and who needed hospital treatment, the court heard.

PC Grant was arrested, along with several colleagues, following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, amid claims of heavy-handed policing.

PC Grant admitted he had struck her once with the baton. He said he had seen her grab another officer's shield but had only rapped her lightly across the knuckles.

And he denied hitting her in the face or that he had let the situation get the better of him.

However, giving evidence he did admit he had been frightened by the scale and mood of the protest.

The court was also told by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen House the levels of violence at the demonstration were comparable to that during the miners' strike 22 years ago.