A 60-YEAR-OLD hunt monitor said she was violently knocked to the ground by a supporter as she tried to film a hunt taking place in Oxfordshire.

Judy Gilbert, a hunt monitor for Protect Our Wild Animals - an anti-hunt organisation - was filming the Heythrop Hunt in Dean, near Chipping Norton, when she claims a supporter of the hunt attacked her. She said the man barged into her, causing her to fall down a slope into a patch of brambles.

Mrs Gilbert, of Watlington, suffered scratches and bruises and said she was distressed afterwards.

And while she called the police to report the incident, no officers attended the scene. Mrs Gilbert said: "I am very disappointed that this totally unprovoked and violent attack upon me was treated as low priority by the police.

"We, hunt monitors, are struggling against impossible odds as we try to fill the void left by the police, who have chosen to ignore the Hunting Act and are leaving hunts to do exactly as they please. We are constantly harassed, threatened and obstructed as we try to collect evidence of what is happening in the hunting field."

A ban on fox hunting with dogs in England and Wales was introduced on February 18, 2005.

Mrs Gilbert, who has film footage of the incident which she has passed to the police, said: "Before hunting was made illegal, police were frequently present throughout an entire hunt, and we would see anything up to a dozen officers patrolling around all day.

"Since the ban, the police are nowhere to be seen. If they had the resources then, why not now?"

Although the Hunting Act is not given a high priority in the National Policing Plan, Thames Valley Police said it was committed to investigating allegations of illegal hunting.

Insp Pete Downing, of TVP's headquarters operations department, said: "We have had very few allegations of illegal hunting.

"Where we have received them, we have investigated them thoroughly and where appropriate sought the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service.

"We reiterate that the behaviour of all parties engaging at a hunting activity must be lawful, and would be concerned that the depth of feeling over these issues could lead to further conflict or disorder.

Anti-hunting activist Penny Little, of Great Haseley, said she was shocked by Mrs Gilbert's account on what happened.

Ms Little, county chairman of POWA, said: "The police and prosecuting authorities are sitting on their hands while defenceless hunt monitors suffer violence and intimidation.

"Mrs Gilbert could have easily been badly injured."

Liz Wills, joint master of Heythrop Hunt, said: "People getting injured during our hunts happens very rarely indeed.

"I am sorry Mrs Gilbert got injured and if it is to do with one of our hunt supporters then I do not condone it at all.

"Mrs Gilbert and various of her colleagues have been monitoring our hunts on a frequent and regular basis and we are all feeling very harassed by this.

"We are hunting within the law and the hunt monitors are constantly putting a huge strain on us."

Police are still investigating the incident involving Mrs Gilbert which happened on December 30.