Shadow rural affairs minister Nick Herbert has reassured hunt supporters there has been no change in the Conservative Party’s plans to offer a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act.

The Sunday Telegraph last weekend quoted “senior Tory figures” discussing plans to overthrow the ban using a private members bill instead of a government bill.

The unnamed source told the Sunday Telegraph the shadow cabinet was actively considering the change in policy for fears a new conservative government could find itself “bogged down” in trying to force through the legislation.

But Vote-OK, the political lobbying organisation formed to help oust anti-hunting MPs in the 2005 general election, has received direct confirmation from Nick Herbert that there has been no change in policy.

“Nick Herbert, the shadow minister with responsibility for managing the process for repeal, has been in regular touch with Vote-OK and the Countryside Alliance, and stated there is no shift in policy,” said a spokesman for Vote-OK.

“He has also contacted members of the sporting press to confirm his position.”

The spokesman said the fall-out from the Sunday Telegraph article was “unhelpful and untidy”.

She added: “We are working to ensure that MPs and candidates are fully aware of the Conservative Party position.”

Find out how to help in the general election with Vote-OK.

For more, see next week’s issue of H&H — the hunting number — out on Thursday 22 October.