ANTI-HUNT protesters delivered a Christmas present to Prime Minister Tony Blair in a bid to ban the cruel sport.

Thames Valley protest group Protect Our Wild Animals (POWA) made a trip to Chequers on Boxing Day to give him a top hat, hunting crop and a badge bearing the words 'Master of the Chequers Poodlehounds'.

Penny Little, the group's spokesman said: "We hope he gets the message loud and clear that he has been such a friend to them, he might as well join them.

"We've had enough of Tony Blair trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. He must know that the electorate will feel so betrayed if another election comes around without a ban on hunting in place that he will lose many thousands of votes.

She added: "It's not too late. He can still redeem himself if he gets on and reintroduces the hunting bill in the new year, thus allowing the Parliament Act to come into effect to deal with the lords. He must decide, and soon, whether the wishes of the public and the House of Commons matter more to him than the hunters and their powerful friends.

"We are watching and we are waiting."

Alan Hill, senior master of the Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and South Berks said: "I think that when Tony Blair came in as Prime Minister he made a statement saying that he was thinking of putting a ban on country sports, not realising at the time the amount of support for country sports and what it means to the countryside. He has come up against the greatest opposition and we feel very passionately to carry on doing so."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "It is a manifesto commitment to resolve the issue in line with the will of the House and it is a matter of house business managers."

Meanwhile, the Countryside Alliance has released its findings from a poll which states 98 per cent of the public think there are more important issues than hunting.