Animal lovers went head-to-head with rural campaigners in a heated debate on hunting last night.

Legal and ethical arguments were disputed by representatives from the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) and the Countryside Alliance in front of an audience at Hendon Town Hall in The Burroughs. 

LACS chief executive Joe Duckworth said: “Hunting is a deeply immoral activity which should have no place in our society. The majority of people and politicians agree with that – it’s completely unnatural and leads to terrible unnecessary suffering.

“There is nothing natural about a pack of dogs and a bunch of humans in red coats on horses chasing around hollering and blowing horns – that’s not the equivalent of a wolf pack.”

But Jim Barrington, welfare consultant for the Countryside Alliance, argued: “Hunting isn’t a form of pest control, it is a form of management. It’s not about animals being killed, it’s about helping the population to stay alive - hunting is very good at doing that.

“Hounds are canines, they hunt like wild canines, they don’t wound; it’s an all or nothing outcome. The chase is the determining factor, that’s what wolves do, they take out the old, the weak and the sick, and canines do the same.”

The debate was chaired by Middlesex University principle lecturer in law Dr Susan Pascoe. 

The university is hosting a series of law debates with the next due to cover the impact of spending cuts on human rights. It will take place at Hendon Town Hall in The Burroughs on February 28 from 2pm.