CLASHES broke out between hunting supporters and opponents on one of the biggest hunting days of the year.

Demonstrators held banners and chanted 'Only scum kill for fun' amid hundreds of supporters as the Southdown and Eridge Hunt met in Lewes for its annual Boxing Day hunt.

The Hunting Act 2004 banned hunting foxes with packs of dogs, and the Southdown and Eridge Hunt says it continues to hunt with hounds but "within the law and restrictions of the Hunting Act 2004".

Animal rights activist Asher Flynn claimed demonstrators had been verbally abused and shoved around by hunt supporters lining High Street, Lewes.

The 22-year-old, from Brighton, said: "It started going a bit crazy. There were about 15 of us and about 300 of them . They immediately surrounded us and they were aggressive and shouting. Some were being provocative and misogynistic. A 60-year-old lady with us was pushed to the floor quite aggressively. People had their clothes ripped and I had my head gear ripped off."

Video taken at the scene shows police trying to defuse the situation between supporters and opponents. Both sides are understood to have dispersed after the horses had ridden through and it is not believed any arrests were made.

The Countryside Alliance said about a quarter of a million people had turned out to support Boxing Day hunts taking place around the UK.

The alliance said one of the biggest turnouts was at the meet of the Heythrop hunt in Oxfordshire, where joint-master Vanessa Lambert said: "Nothing beats riding into the square and seeing the thousands of people who have turned out to see us."

The hunts took place after a poll, conducted on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports, said eight out of ten people believed fox hunting should remain illegal.

Supporters of fox hunting are pushing for a new vote on the ban, which was promised by the coalition government following the 2010 general election.

The Southdown and Eridge Hunt did not return an email from The Argus seeking comment yesterday (Sunday).