ANIMAL rights supporters reacted angrily to plans by Tory leader David Cameron to give MPs a free vote to repeal the fox hunting ban.

The Witney MP told GMTV: "I have always believed that country sports are something that have taken place for years and they do not need the approach of the criminal law.

"In a new Parliament, it should have a new vote, on a free vote basis, on the issue of hunting."

The MP's spokesman confirmed that Mr Cameron, who voted against Labour's 2005 ban, would also vote to scrap it if he became Prime Minister.

On Tuesday, Mr Cameron told Talksport radio he still found time to shoot "the odd pigeon".

Asked if he saw anything wrong with hunting or shooting he said: "No, I don't see anything wrong with it at all. I was brought up in the country, I enjoy country sports, I still have a bit of time for the odd pigeon. And sometimes do a bit of fishing."

He described the ban as a "farce" and said: "We've passed a law that everyone is openly flouting and it makes the law look stupid."

Penny Little, of the organisation Protect Our Wild Animals, based in Great Haseley, described his comments as "appalling."

She said: "There is lawlessness in the countryside. Hunt monitors are the only ones trying to collate evidence and we're facing high levels of abuse and obstruction.

"Is it Mr Cameron's theory that all laws that are broken should be repealed?

"The hunts have always considered themselves above the law, and that's what they are trying to prove.

"They are setting out to smash this law, and for a senior politician to encourage and condone law breaking is disgraceful.

"I hope people take careful note that this is what David Cameron is really about - supporting his blood sport-loving friends. His caring, kindly image has gone out the window."

Richard Dossett-Davies, a member of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and Green Party supporter, from Cogges Hill Road, Witney, said: "There are people who break the law with dog fighting and badger baiting. Does that mean we should also repeal those laws?

"I've got no problem with shooting pigeons or rabbits, especially if they are going to eat them.

"But there are better ways of controlling foxes.

Labour MP for Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: "His enthusiasm for killing animals for fun is shocking, and exposes the myth of the image he is trying to put across."

The League Against Cruel Sports said: "Many people in Oxfordshire will find these remarks distasteful and distressing."