A police investigation has begun into an alleged attack at a Boxing Day hunt.
The Colne Valley Beagles had to abandon their planned event at the Jack O’Mitre pub in Scammonden, after Hunt Saboteurs protesters reported that two of their group had been set upon.
Police attended the scene at 11.30am, to respond to allegations by the 12 saboteurs present that their van had been smashed by a group with baseball bats before two were pulled out of it and kicked and punched.
While the group believes that hunt supporters may have been behind the attack, it has been strongly denied by the Colne Valley Beagles.
A national organisation, Hunt Saboteurs is comprised of small groups around the country who attend local events to monitor hunts to ensure they remain legal.
A spokesman for the Saboteurs, Lee Moon, said: “Two of our members were dragged out of the van onto the floor by a group of around six to eight people and were assaulted.
“The attackers even knocked out two teeth from one of them – it was a really vicious ordeal.
“The group were also verbally abused before they rang the police, who attended the scene to get statements.
“We’ve got high quality video footage of the assaults which we have given to the police, who we hope will find those responsible.
“This violence doesn’t threaten us and we will continue to monitor events.”
Under the 2004 Hunting Act, it is now illegal to hunt foxes with packs of dogs, although certain modified forms – including other animals such as hares – are still allowed within the law.
Large events may now comprise of trail hunting, in which an artificial trail is created for participants to follow.
If the Scammonden hunt had gone ahead, it would have included a mixture of rabbit and trail hunting.
Commenting on the incident, the senior joint master for the Colne Valley Beagles, James Swanbury, said: “I’m aware that an incident took place but am sure that no hunt members of the group or supporters were involved – it was somebody else.
“I’m very upset about it.
“They saboteurs have the right to protest but for it to take a turn for the worst is very unfortunate.
“We will continue to carry on as normal.
“We have been established in the area for over 100 years and we are not going to close up shop.”
A spokesman from West Yorkshire Police confirmed that an investigation was ongoing regarding one male suspect.