Anti-hunt campaigners have criticised a Sussex MP for accepting a £24,500 windfall a day after unveiling plans to end the hunting ban.

It was revealed yesterday that £5,500 of the cash received by Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, the Conservative shadow environment minister, came directly from donors with an active interest in bloodsports.

Simon Wild, from West Sussex Wildlife Protection, said: "It leaves him somewhat tainted. David Cameron should think twice about having him in the shadow cabinet."

Mr Herbert received £24,500 of political donations from seven separate donors on July 30, the same day that Horse and Hounds magazine carried an article reporting a pledge he had made over the hunting ban.

It cited an announcement made by the politician at a foxhound show in Peterborough on July 22 when he revealed it would be a Conservative manifesto pledge to hold a free vote on overturning the law.

Fox-hunting has been illegal since the passing of the Hunting Act 2004 which followed a lengthy public debate and mass protests.

Three of the donations which Mr Herbert received were from public supporters of hunting and shooting.

He accepted £1,500 from gun seller and hunting outfitter William and Sons, £2,000 from grouse-shooting magnate Michael Cannon and £2,000 from the Altnaharra hunting, fishing and shooting estate.

The remaining donations were from shipping magnates, investment managers and businessmen.

Mr Wild said Mr Herbert had a long association with hunting, through his involvement with the British Field Sports Society, the predecessor to the Countryside Alliance.

Mr Wild added: "The fact these donations have come in indicates a conflict of interest. He has essentially received remuneration for furthering the interests of these businesses."

The Conservatives have previously said they want to have a free vote about the hunting ban but have tried to keep it as a low profile issue.

A member of the Crawley and Horsham hunt, who asked not to be named, said: "I don't think that it will ever be changed back to how it was but the law does need to be revisited. So much of it doesn't work. If I go walking with three dogs, for example, and they run off after an animal I can be prosecuted for it, but if I only have two dogs it's ok. That doesn't make sense.

"At the moment there are foxes being shot, poisoned and gassed because they can't be hunted and people want to protect their animals. How is that any better?"

Mr Herbert is currently in Zimbabwe on parliamentary business. He did not return calls from The Argus yesterday.