Police are investigating a report of illegal hunting after hounds from the Duke Of Beaufort’s Hunt were filmed chasing a fox on Hawkesbury Common.

Footage obtained by animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports shows a fox jumping through a barbed wire fence with several hounds following closely behind.

Hunting a wild mammal with dogs was made illegal with the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004, but a spokesperson for the Beaufort Hunt called the allegation 'spurious' and said the hounds were stopped shortly after the video ends.

The incident was filmed on October 28 and footage has been passed to Avon and Somerset Police.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This footage clearly shows that fox hunting is still taking place in the English countryside despite being banned 15 years ago.

“It shows that the trail hunting excuse being used by hunts is a smokescreen to cover up the chasing and killing of foxes – if trail hunting was real, foxes wouldn’t be pursued by baying hounds.

“Fox hunting is a cruel blood sport which involves hunt hounds chasing and literally tearing apart the body of the live fox when they catch it.

“Landowners such as the government and the National Trust which license trail hunting on their land need to act now and call an end to this barbaric behaviour.”

A spokesperson for the Beaufort Hunt said: "“The Beaufort Hunt operates within the law by trail hunting but like many other packs, we are regularly faced with spurious allegations about our activities and reject any suggestion that we are not operating legally.

"If the hounds ever pursue a wild mammal, the professional members of hunt staff stop the hounds as soon as possible and return to trail hunting which is what happened on this occasion, however the edited footage does not show that the hounds were stopped shortly after this video clip ends.

"We hunt at least four days per week from September until March and have carried out thousands of hunting days since the Hunting Act was enforced in February 2005.

"Many of these days have been attended by anti-hunting activists, yet there have not been any Hunting Act convictions of anybody associated with the Beaufort Hunt in that time, although many hours of police time and valuable resources have been wasted investigating false claims.”

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We’re investigating a report of an illegal hunt in which dogs were used to pursue a fox.

“Footage relating to the incident has been provided to officers and reviewed.

“Anyone who witnessed the hunt who hasn’t yet spoken to police, or who has information or footage which could help our inquiry, is asked to call 101 and provide the call handler with the reference 5220247285.”