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Minister shocked by hunt protest.

Byline: Seb Vance

GOVERNMENT minister Alun Michael described in court yesterday how ``shocked and angry'' he felt last September as parliament was invaded by pro-hunting protesters, including stud manager David Redvers, writes Seb Vance. Redvers was one of eight who deny public order offences following their protest against the fox-hunting bill, an act that Michael, who was rural affairs minister at the time, said had serious repercussions, given the fears of a terrorist attack.

Michael was greeted by several dozen demonstrators on arrival at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London to give evidence. Chants of ``liar, liar'' rang out, while one man in a fox costume attempted to get to the minister but was arrested and handcuffed.

Michael told the court: ``I think it is fair to say there had been a number of incidents in the House prior to this - the throwing of purple powder, which had raised concerns - and there had been fears over the possibility of a terrorist attack.''

He added: ``I was in fear, when they first came in, over the safety of everybody in the chamber, because we didn't know what was going to happen.''

Labour MP Kate Hoey, who voted against a ban, said: ``I couldn't have been closer; there was no MP nearer than me. Some MPs clearly feel very strongly about P arliament and the rights of P arliament to police itself, and therefore some felt it was an affront to our democracy, but one has to accept that perhaps people didn't feel they had been listened to.''

Conservative MP James Gray, who was speaking at the time, said: ``I wasn't aware of anything until there was a young fellow standing on my right-hand side. I didn't feel any fear at all.

``He was a nice-looking young fellow with short hair and he had a description on his T-shirt which gave me some degree of comfort.''

Mr Gray said he then saw the assistant sergeant-at-arms fall. ``I got the impression that when he fell over one of them [the protesters] tried to help him up.''

The case continues.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 26, 2005
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