MEP Ian Hudghton carried an extra piece of 'hand luggage' with him when he boarded his flight to Strasbourg on Monday 20 October 2003. Mr Hudghton took receipt of a 7,500 signature petition calling for a complete EU-wide ban on trade in cat and dog fur when he met Fraserburgh animal rights campaigner, Sandra Edwards at Aberdeen.

The MEP had arranged to take delivery of the petition from Mrs Edwards before flying out to attend a European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.

Sandra Edwards has worked tirelessly over 6 months on behalf of animal rights campaign group Voice 4 Dogs collecting over 7,500 signatures, from people the length and breadth of the UK. Keen to ensure that the petition landed on the correct desk in the European Commission, she contacted Mr Hudghtonís office, and discovered that the MEP was due to fly to Strasbourg via Aberdeen on Monday.

The two arranged to meet so that Mrs Edwards could pass the 500-page document into Mr Hudghtonís safekeeping for the journey. The MEP will, in turn, arrange to hand-deliver the petition to European Internal Market Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein during the week's session in Strasbourg.

Public anger and revulsion about trade in cat and dog fur has intensified across the EU since it became public knowledge last year. An on-line petition (available at www.voice4dogs.org) has generated over 6.000 signatures from across Europe in addition to Mrs Edwards' 7,500 hand-written petition, bound for Strasbourg with Mr Hudghton this week.

Commenting on the campaign, Mrs Edwards said:

"When I first heard about this cruel trade, I felt compelled to do something about it so I decided to raise public awareness through the Voice 4 Dogs Petition. Although at first it seemed that very few people knew anything about this, as soon as they heard the facts, they were queuing up to sign and the campaign has grown from strength to strength."

Before boarding his flight with the Petition safely in hand, Mr Hudghton said:

"I shall make sure that this petition is delivered direct to Commissioner Bolkestein and will impress on him the need to get legislation onto the agenda urgently to put a stop to this cruel trade once and for all."

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