A SENIOR lawyer is spearheading a new campaign to promote the interests of hunting, shooting and fishing organisations.
American-born Eric Bettelheim has set up the Country Sports Business Group to co-ordinate fund-raising, lobbying and legal battles on their behalf.
Bettelheim, a partner in London firm Rogers & Wells, says the pressure group aims to defend field sports enthusiasts from animal rights activists.
One of his key objectives will be to press for a comprehensive law which governs the way in which Britain's game is managed. "We need to get a modern, rational, balanced statute on animal management," he says.
Another policy will be to oppose bans on hunting when they appear. Matthew Knight, the Tunbridge Wells solicitor who handled the successful bid to overturn a Somerset Council ban, has joined the group.
Bettelheim, who specialises in finanical law, says he decided to launch the group after being angered by the strength of the anti-hunt lobby and noticing how fragmented field sports supporters were.
"I was outraged that these single issue pressure groups could motivate politicians to interfere with basic freedoms," he adds.
The group aims to raise several million pounds per year to fund campaigns. Its 10 founder members will give a minimum joining fee of £10,000.