A NEW luxury hotel owned by Andy Murray has removed all references to hunting from its website following pressure from animal rights campaigners.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) had written to the Wimbledon champion, who bought the Cromlix hotel near his home town of Dunblane in February last year, complaining that hunting was promoted as a possible activity for guests online.
A response from the star's sports management firm, 77, confirmed all traces of hunting had been deleted. A spokesman said references to hunting were removed from the Cromlix website earlier this month and the activity was never offered on the hotel's grounds.
However, the Countryside Alliance hit back at Peta's stance, branding the group extremists.
In its letter to Murray, Kirsty Henderson, Peta campaign co-ordinator, hailed a decision not to serve foie gras - a controversial French pate made from the livers of force-fed ducks or geese - at the hotel's restaurant, overseen by top French chef Albert Roux.
However she added: "We know how much of an animal lover you are, so we were concerned to learn that the Cromlix hotel is currently promoting hunting as a local activity to its patrons.
"I'm sure that you - as a world-class athlete - agree that a true sport is one in which all participants are willing. The idea of hunting cats and dogs, such as your beloved Maggie May and Rusty, would rightly make most of us sick, and yet the animals listed on the Cromlix website, alongside the best times of year to kill them, have exactly the same capacity to feel pain and suffer."
She added that controlled hunts were ineffective in managing wildlife - a claim disputed by the Countryside Alliance - and asked Murray to show compassion to "the beautiful and sensitive wild animals who live in the vicinity of the Cromlix hotel".
Peta yesterday expressed delight with the decision to remove hunting references.
The charity's UK associate director, Mimi Bekhechi, said "true sports" involved "competition and fair play between two parties" and she hit out at "despicable individuals who torment and kill unwilling participants for fun". She added: "Hunters would be arrested if their victims were cats or dogs, even though deer, pheasants and other animals experience fear and pain, just as all animals do."
But Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said stalking was a vital wildlife management tool that helped to ensure "a healthy breeding stock of our largest native mammal". He added: "By campaigning against management of the deer population Peta is condemning thousands of deer to a painful death from disease and starvation, but this is no surprise from an animal rights group who are so extreme they even object to keeping animals as pets."
The Victorian mansion with 10 bedrooms and five suites, has had an extensive refurbishment after being taken over by Murray.
l Plans for Scotland's first purpose-built tennis centre, backed by Murray's tennis coach mother Judy and former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, have been revealed. The Park of Keir facility between Dunblane and Bridge of Allan will boast six indoor and six outdoor tennis courts, a six-hole golf course, practice range and coaching facilities.