HUNTERS and protesters clashed at a Boxing Day hunt yesterday.

Hundreds gathered to watch the annual event in Lewes.

But the occasion was marred by scuffles.

The riders of Southdown and Eridge Foxhounds, dressed in full hunting regalia, met outside the White Hart in the town centre, as is their tradition, while onlookers kept an eye out from the sidelines.

But some of the hunt members were confronted by a group of about a dozen saboteurs, waving banners.

Witnesses said some hunt supporters tried to grab the banners and police had to step in to separate the two sides.

The saboteurs were protesting even though fox hunting has been illegal in the UK for more than a decade – a law was passed in 2005 outlawing the practice.

Southdown and Eridge and Eridge practise drag hunting, where riders hunt the scent of an artificially laid material, along with their hounds.

The protesters say it is still important that those who are against hunting make themselves known.

The Lewes scuffle was one of several clashes between hunts and protesters across the country yesterday.

Tempers flared in Basseleg near Newport in Wales and in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, among other places.

Peterborough has been the scene of several bad-tempered confrontations between hunters and saboteurs in the past.

But the Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt was hoping for a peaceful day yesterday after it was granted a temporary injunction by a High Court judge and seven names protesters agreed not to trespass.