Last weekend a member of the public, going about a lawful pursuit in the Wiltshire countryside, was battered unconscious by masked thugs wielding iron bars. The attack took place in broad daylight, in surroundings that would otherwise seem idyllic. But strangely, assaults of this kind - though rare - are not unknown in rural areas. The people on the receiving end of the violence are often Masters or employees of hunts. Those perpetrating them belong to a hard core of aggressive hunt saboteurs.