MPs are being offered bodyguards amid mounting concerns over reprisal attacks in light of the hunting ban.

Several high profile ministers have so far taken up police advice for 24-hour protection because of fears of violence as Labour steps up its election campaign.

One of the most outspoken MPs on the subject has been Worcester's Mike Foster.

He refused to comment on whether he had taken up the offer of protection, but did say he thought the subject of hunting should now be laid to rest.

"I do not comment on security, although there have been instances in the past when this has been an issue, and these have been documented in the Press," he said.

"There have also been cases where some of my colleagues have been roughed up, but whether something more sinister is likely to happen, I don't know."

Among those already being protected are Alun Michael, the Minister for Rural Affairs, Ben Bradshaw, the Minister for Nature Conservation, and Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons.

Mr Hain has been targeted several times, including being besieged in his own home by hunt supporters.

In total, dozens of anti-hunt MPs have received death threats, and a spokesman for the real Countryside Alliance this week promised to "hound them until they go to their grave."

But Mr Foster did not seem too concerned by the threats, saying: "I do not think there is a need for threats of violence or intimidation," he said. The ban is in place now and I am glad to say it seems to be working."