THOUSANDS of people attended the traditional Boxing Day hunt in Lacock, despite the ban on hunting with dogs.

The Avon Vale Hunt gathered for the first Boxing Day meet since the ban came into force and about 3,000 people turned up to support them.

Master Jonathon Seed said the hounds had killed no foxes and the dogs were following a trail that had been laid, as they can still do within the law.

He said the crowds that turned up showed there is support for hunting and vowed to continue pressing for the law to be changed.

"People want to support us and I'm sure they will continue to do so," he said.

"We will carry on as we have been until the Act is repealed.

"No sides are happy with things the way they are at the moment."

When the new legislation came into effect in February hunting foxes with dogs was made illegal under the Hunting Act.

Hounds can still be used to follow a scent and to flush out a fox. The fox can then be killed by a bird of prey or shot.

Anti-hunt supporters stayed away from Lacock this year, saying they had achieved their aim when the ban came into effect.

Mike Jeffries, Wiltshire spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports said: "We didn't go this year because there was no reason to.

"We have achieved our objectives as far as the hunting ban is concerned.

"It is hunters who spent hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to get the High Court law lords to overturn the ban. All that to try and repeal a law they say is not working."

Mr Seed said: "The hunting ban is like prohibition, more people will do something if they are told not to.

"It is an act of defiance, shown by the people who wanted to register their disapproval. There was more support than this time last year and it was a really nice time, everybody enjoyed themselves. In the past we have had protesters waving banners at the horses. They seemed to be redundant this year. They can't really stand there saying we need to ban hunting because it has been banned."

Sarah Haynes, landlady at the Red Lion in Lacock, said: "Everybody seemed very happy. Some people thought the ban would stop the hunt but it clearly hasn't."