POLICE are investigating extraordinary claims from hunt saboteurs following an alleged confrontation with a hunt group linked to Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural University (RAU).

Members of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) travelled to a meeting of the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) Beagles at the Holford Arms in Knockdown near Tetbury on January 10.

HSA claims they witnessed people chasing a hare – which was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act – in a field behind the pub and that when the saboteurs returned to their vehicles they were threatened by a large group of people.

However, a Gloucestershire police spokesman said they received no reports from saboteurs on the day.

HSA alleges that one man produced a dead rabbit and a foxes brush and waved them at its members, and that when the saboteurs tried to leave the area in their vehicles they were blocked in.

One saboteur’s vehicle, a Land Rover, had its windscreen smashed and people began to rock it from side to side while the protesters were inside, before the dead rabbit was thrown onto the bonnet, HSA claims.

The saboteurs also said that they were threatened and people attempted to force their way inside the Land Rover.

HSA claims that the saboteurs eventually managed to escape in their vehicles, but were followed for a long time by five vehicles.

Photographs of the alleged incident, taken by the saboteurs, have since been passed to Gloucestershire police and officers are now investigating.

A police spokesman said the only related incident reported on January 10 was a call from a woman driving a horsebox on the A433 in Didmarton, near Knockdown, who said she had been stopped by saboteurs wearing balaclavas who asked if she was part of the hunt group before allowing her to continue.

Lee Moon, a spokesman for HSA, called for the RAU to “take disciplinary action against those involved” in the alleged incident in Knockdown.

RAU principal, Professor Chris Gaskell, said: “We have been alerted to an incident on Saturday January 10, with allegations arising from both parties concerned, and we are looking into the matter further.

“The Royal Agricultural University is committed to maintaining good community relations and indeed the Beagles events are attended by many people from Cirencester and the surrounding areas.

“We, of course, do not condone any form of anti-social behaviour by our students or anyone else and have proper procedures to ensure that, if this occurs, it is dealt with rigorously.”

The RAC Beagles were formed in 1889 and, since the hunting ban was enforced in 2005, they have used artificial scent laid by a runner. Prior to this, they hunted hare.

The hounds are cared for by RAU students at the nearby Coates Kennels and they fill the posts of Joint Masters, Master-Huntsman and Whippers-In.