Skirmishes during Wednesday's bloody pro-hunting demonstration have been overblown and police were partly to blame for over-reacting, a Lake District huntsman said this week.

Alison Bolt, of the North Lonsdale Foxhounds, was among 49 hunting supporters from South Cumbria who joined the mass rally outside Westminster as MPs voted overwhelmingly to ban hunting with dogs.

She said there had been a full day of peaceful protests involving 20,000 people before television cameras captured clashes between "a minority" of campaigners and baton-wielding policemen.

Fellow protester Neil Salisbury, of the Coniston Foxhounds, similarly stressed that most of the day of action had been law-abiding, with celebrities and MPs addressing the crowds.

"It was a tremendous atmosphere, the press concentrated on a small issue. The number of arrests I heard, you get more than that at a football match."

By Thursday, Scotland Yard was questioning 13 people and reported that 19 people had suffered minor injuries. It estimated there were between 8,000 and 10,000 people at the protest.

Although Mrs Bolt did not see the violence, she said it appeared that police "were a bit rough" erecting barriers to block a street. Trouble then flared as protesters were pushed into the police by the sheer weight of people behind who could not see what was going on. "I don't think anyone intended violence and I think the police did overact."

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Collins, who voted against the ban, agreed: "Scenes of police bludgeoning people and breaking open people's heads are not scenes we normally expect from the police in this country."

Yet despite the trouble outside and the disruption in the House of Commons after five protesters stormed the floor, MPs did manage to back the Hunting Bill by 339 votes to 155.

Even if the House of Lords rejects it in the next month, the Government has pledged to push it through using the Parliament Act. It would then come into force in July 2006 leaving two more hunting seasons that is unless the Conservatives win the next election and reverse the ban.

Yet despite being cornered, the fox hunting fraternity is fighting on.

Mrs Bolt said opinion polls showed around 60 per cent of people did not support an outright ban and MPs were not reflecting the views of the populace.

"They think it's the working class against the upper class but of course they are quite wrong. Hunting here is more of a working class pursuit. If the Government brings in this law it is not based on evidence and principal, it's based on ignorance and prejudice."

The ban would damage the economy, she said, put the county's 650 hunt hounds at risk and cause foxes more suffering since many would be shot, trapped and snared instead to control their numbers.

But she added "all was not lost". The Countryside Alliance is planning to take the Government to court to challenge the Parliament Act.

It is also arguing that the bill is illegal under the Human Rights Act because it does not offer compensation.