Hundreds of hunt supporters were evacuated from their annual ball after a hoax bomb threat.
More than 300 people were forced to leave the Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Clayton-le-Moors after a false warning of a bomb at the hotel, which was hosting the Holcombe Hunt’s annual black tie ball on Saturday, February 4.
Lancashire Police said they attended the scene to reports of a bomb threat, but that it was believed to be a hoax.
Guests were evacuated outside the hotel, on Blackburn Road, while a search of the building was conducted by police, but were able to return within 30 minutes.
The formal event is one of the highlights of the year for the Holcombe Hunt, whose senior master Susan Simmons condemned the hoaxers.
She said: “We had a false bomb hoax made at the hotel, which is trying to make a living in a tough business world.
“The call was made to disrupt a major hotel trade. It’s propaganda, it’s intimidation and it’s trying to get businesses to suffer.
“We just headed outside, somebody opened their car and 300 people danced to music from the car stereo in the car park.
“The ball was a marvellous success and the call rose to absolutely nothing, but it was a total waste of police and the hotel management’s time.”
Ms Simmons said that disruption to hunts had been going on since ‘time immemorial’.
She added: “We are all operating within the law and we are maintaining the heritage of hunting in Britain because of all the benefits that it adds to rural trade.”
A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “We were called at about 10.15pm on Saturday, February 4, to reports of a bomb threat at the hotel.
“We attended the scene but the call is thought to have been a hoax. Enquiries are ongoing.”
A spokesperson for the Mercure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa said: “We can confirm that the hotel was temporarily evacuated on Saturday, February 4 following a hoax call relating to an event taking place that evening.
“Police attended the scene and the guests were all safely back in the building within half an hour.”