Continuing on my theme from last week and putting the record straight with regards to Bonner and the Countryside Alliance I thought it only necessary to dive further into their history with regards to their obsession with sabs and monitors. What helped me most was the acquisition of an internal memo sent by Bonner (in conjunction with Simon Hart) in 2009 to Stephen Lambert (board member of the CA) and Alastair Jackson (previous Chairman of the MFHA) with a plan on how they could potentially reduce the risk of being caught illegally hunting.
Timothy Lawson Cruttenden
The idea was to employ the legal expert Timothy Lawson Cruttenden, once described as “an enemy of free speech“ who had a history bringing legal action against activists and protesters and specialised in harassment law, to bring about a state of play which would hugely reduce the capability of all fox hunt monitoring by organisations or individuals by the use of the civil injunction. See the memo below:
Pay special attention to the 3 main points highlighted. Burden of proof is based on probability rather than reasonable doubt, no defence for detecting or preventing crime and allowing the complainant to set the terms with obvious results for future monitoring. Also note that this trial case “would try to impose conditions on all monitoring of all hunts”.
You don’t have to be a legal expert to understand that there is a clear attempt here to subvert the real course of justice and a clear attempt at handicapping those who seek to bring them to justice via sinister, but legal means. It also highlights the lengths the CA were prepared to go to in allowing hunts to continue to hunt illegally without having to risk being taken to court.
It makes quite interesting reading, especially when noting the potential cost of such a legal action, estimated to be in the £10 -20K range. This is no small sum and certainly well out of the reach of any normal person and we’ll cover more on that shortly. So how did history record the events that followed?
Wikipedia notes this:
The Crawley and Horsham hunt launched a legal action in the High Court for trespass, nuisance, and harassment against Simon and Jane Wild of West Sussex Wildlife Protection and West Sussex Badger Protection Group. The hunt used Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, an expert in the use of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in such cases. This was viewed as a test case and received support from the Countryside Alliance, the Master of Foxhounds Association and 80 landowners and if successful was planned to lead to a request for an injunction against everyone associated with these groups from interfering with the hunt. The defendants claimed to have evidence of illegal hunting taking place and were asking the court to accept this as a defence to the Harassment Act action. The original judge, Justice Cranston stepped down in July 2008 due to earlier comments made in support of the ban made while an MP. During the second trial it was reported that the judge dismissed nuisance and trespass, because they had “fundamental defects”, leaving only harassment. It was also reported that the protestors, using an undercover infiltrator, had been able to get hold of conclusive evidence that the claimants were engaged in illegal fox hunting. The principle plaintiff, Simon Greenwood, was filmed using his hounds to chase a fox to ground and then call in terrier-men to dig it out and throw it to the hounds The plaintiffs dropped the case, and agreed to pay costs estimated at over £120,000.
Bonner, Hart and all involved failed completely in their attempted action. In doing so the costs they were forced to pay were significant and it would appear that when Lawson Cruttendan estimated the cost of such an injunction he was significantly wide of the mark, from £20K to an incredible £120K! The fact that the CA probably didn’t have any trouble paying the huge costs says something about the financial might they can call on however being rich doesn’t always solve your problems.
The ramifications of this would continue to rumble on within the CA for several years to come. Internal emails I gained from CA employees claim; “Many hours have been spent reconciling something that was ill conceived from the beginning” and “The architect of this doomed and financially disastrous case, Tim Bonner, has a lot to answer for”. Further to this there seemed to be some confusion as to who was actually responsible for the management of the case as all concerned seemed to be denying it was them. Lord Mancroft (famous for calling NHS nurses “grubby, drunken and promiscuous”) was noted as saying:
“Unfortunately the CA did not have management of the case, it was not well managed and so it has ended badly. If the CA were not in charge of the management, who was, as it was neither the Crawley & Horsham (by their own admittance) nor the MFHA – the last had nothing to do with it and expressed grave reservations about going forward from the outset”.
When we see these monumental CA cock-ups from the inside and see how they shouted from the roof tops about the changes to the face covering laws I covered in my last blog entry you start to understand why they got so excited about something so minor. Makes you wonder what other hair brained schemes Bonner will come up with next and why he even holds a senior position within the CA if he’s as incompetent as he appears. Irrespective of that, these revelations only further my belief that the CA are a truly sinister organisation who will stop at nothing to further their agenda by fair means or foul and are prepared to spend a significant amount of money in doing so. In this instance justice was done and the right outcome achieved however this may not always be the case. It was a relief that their recent attempt to gain charitable status also failed, quite frankly how any organisation can claim to be charity and yet who’s main purpose for existence is the promotion of blood sports is beyond me.