A host of celebrities have rallied to appeal for the hunting ban in the UK to remain intact, joining Animal Defenders International (ADI) in an urgent plea to MPs.

Over 20 prominent including Ricky Gervais, Jane Goodall, Morrissey, Ann Widdecombe, Chris Packham, Sadie Frost and Stella McCartney are calling on politicians to block attempts by Government to bring back what they describe as a “despicable blood sport”. MPs will vote on Wednesday on an amendment which would allow the return of hunting wild animals with packs of dogs, which has been illegal for ten years. ADI and the Team Fox coalition of major animal organisations will rally outside Parliament today, ahead of the vote.

The letter from the celebrities states that, if passed, the amendment to the Hunting Act will render the legislation “toothless, allowing hunts to resume their cruel pastime with impunity.”

Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer said, “The arguments for hunting were picked apart and defeated 10 years ago and to this day remain the same. This cruel blood sport must stay in the past where it belongs. Please contact your MP today and urge them to safeguard this important wildlife legislation and vote to keep the ban.”

Public opposition to hunting has remained consistently high for many years, since before the introduction of the Hunting Act over 10 years ago, and continues to rise. Latest figures state that 80% support a ban on fox hunting, 86% a ban on deer hunting and 88% a ban on hare hunting and “coursing”.

The Hunting Act prohibits hunts across England and Wales from using a pack of dogs to flush out and chase a wild animal across the countryside to the point of exhaustion and ultimately to their death, either by the bullet or the jaws of the hounds. It is the most successful legislation of its kind, with 378 convictions since it was introduced.

The Conservative Party has long expressed its desire to repeal the Hunting Act, with a free vote on the issue pledged in its manifesto. However, instead a free vote of MPs, the Government last week announced plans to amend the legislation through a statutory instrument, which will be put to a vote on Wednesday afternoon.

Celebrities have urgently rallied to join ADI, and other members of the Team Fox coalition, in calling on MPs to block the proposed changes to the Hunting Act. Regarded as a repeal of the law in all but name, the legislative amendments would allow the return of hunting with a pack of hounds.

Studies show that fox populations are unaffected by hunting and their predation of farmed animals has a minimal impact. The use of hunting with hounds for ‘wildlife management’ is considered inefficient and inhumane.

Members of the public are urged to show their support by attending the Team Fox rally and lobby today, Tuesday 14 July from 11am, Old Palace Yard, London SW1 (opposite Parliament) and urging their MP to keep the ban.

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