A BROADWAY woman was the mysterious hunting supporter who made Tony Blair question the ban on fox hunting.

Chrissie Down, former master of the North Cotswolds Hunt, was staying with family in Elba, Italy, who were hosting a lunch for the Blairs when she met the former prime minister during the height of demonstrations about fox hunting in 1999.

In his autobiography, released this month, Mr Blair describes a mystery woman who spoke to him about his 1997 manifesto promise to give parliament a free vote over outlawing hunting with dogs.

He wrote: “She took me calmly and persuasively through what the hunters did, the jobs that were dependent on it and the social consequences of banning it and did it with an effect that convinced me. From that moment on, I became determined to slip out of this."

The 60-year-old said she was under orders not to mention hunting to Mr Blair during the meal. But afterwards, he demanded to know what she did for a living when Ms Down refused to reveal her occupation during lunch.

“It was all quite jokey, not as serious and political as he makes out in the book," she said.

“So if he was persuaded it was more by how I was than what I said.”