Boxing Day hunts go ahead in spite of COVID-19 restrictions
Angela Rayner labelled the hunts disgusting
Despite Covid-19 restrictions cancelling many planned Boxing Day hunts across the country, a small number still took place.
The activity usually entails a town centre parade for locals to attend and observe, but this year participation was significantly reduced with household mixing banned in most places across the UK.
The government's decision to allow some hunts to take place this year has been widely criticised by animals rights activists and the Labour Party, who said it represented "one rule for the Conservatives and their mates, another for everybody else."
Countryside Alliance defended the tradition going ahead this year. The pro-hunting group highlighted that crowds were told to stay away and fewer packs of hounds were used this year.
Polly Portwin, Countryside Alliance's head of hunting, said: "Like other outdoor sporting activities, hunting has been able to continue today in a Covid-secure manner, offering those who have been able to participate an opportunity to enjoy the countryside.
"We hope that all hunts will be able to meet in villages and town centres again on Boxing Day in 2021 and be able to welcome the tens of thousands of supporters for whom this event is an integral part of their annual festivities."
Trail hunting is a legal activity, in which packs of hounds follow a scent along a pre-determined route to replicate a real hunt', but animal rights activists claim these rules do little to protect foxes in the countryside.
Angela Rayner said the decision to allow the hunts to go ahead was "disgusting" in the context of so many families being unable to see their loved ones this Christmas.
And Luke Pollard, Labour's shadow environment secretary, said: "Families across the country are rightly following Covid restrictions this Christmas.
"But for those whose passion is hunting it is a festive free-for-all, after the Conservatives exempted them from restrictions outside Tier 4.
"Yet again, it's one rule for the Conservatives and their mates, another for everybody else.
"We need to close the loopholes so fox hunting can be consigned to the history books where it belongs."