Hunters and protesters have blamed each other for the death of a hound in a road accident.

The hound was killed on the A24 near Knepp Castle, Horsham, during a meet of Crawley and Horsham Hunt, which was targeted by hunt saboteurs.

Four hounds split away from the main pack and headed towards the A24, some distance away. As they tried to cross the road, one was hit by a lorry and killed.

Crawley and Horsham Hunt joint master Kim Richardson said: "This is an appalling accident. There is no doubt had the protesters not been out harassing us this hound would never have been killed.

"The huntsman would have had no problem in keeping the hounds together under normal circumstances, but the interference caused by the saboteurs put intolerable pressures on him and the pack of hounds split up.

"We are just relieved that people were not injured in this accident."

Hunt saboteur Joe Mitchell claimed the hunters had been hunting up and down the A24 all Saturday morning, placing hounds, horses, riders and wildlife in danger.

He said: "While hunt saboteurs administered first aid and called emergency vets, the hunt continued, leaving the hound to die from her injuries."

Meanwhile, anti-hunt protesters and hunt saboteurs staged a peaceful demonstration yesterday at the kennels of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Fox Hounds in East Grinstead.

The action followed the arrest of a huntsman following an alleged attack on a 58-year-old woman who had been filming the hunt on Saturday in Kent when a horse died.

The man was released on police bail to allow further investigations to take place.