IT IS pure hypocrisy for hunt supporters to slate the recent rejection by MPs of Lembit Opik's Middle Way' Bill on wild animal suffering.

It was a desperate, cynical attempt to pre-empt a hunt ban - for which elected MPs have voted six times by massive majorities.

For decades hunt supporters in Parliament frustrated or diluted proposed legislation to protect wild mammals from cruelty. In 1996, they insisted on removing the word torture' from the Wild Mammals Protection Bill, fearing a court might rule that hounding animals to death is torture.

Now we are supposed to believe they suddenly care about wild animal welfare? Hardly, but they know that Opik's legislation would have saved their sport' and made it difficult for individual prosecutions to succeed especially as hunts would doubtless have used intimidation and violence against hunt monitors to prevent them gathering evidence.

If democracy means anything, the Government must bring back the Hunt Bill and use the Parliament Act to defeat the unelected Lords.

We urge readers to write to their MPs and the Prime Minister to demand this.

Alan Kirby, Press Officer, Protect Our Wild Animals (POWA).