Ministers and civil servants involved in the Government's controversial badger cull policy have been placed under extra security to protect against the threat from animal rights extremists, MPs have been told.
Former agriculture minister Sir Jim Paice revealed the special security arrangements as he defended the plans for pilot culls of the wild animals to help protect cattle from bovine TB.
Sir Jim, who lost his post in last month's reshuffle, said ministers and officials involved in the policy had been the subject of threats.
The former minister insisted it was "absurd" to claim that alternatives to the two pilot culls such as vaccination had not been properly considered.
He told the Commons: "The whole House must accept that no minister from any political party is going to want to court the unpopularity or indeed the security challenge."