Since the publication of the hunting webinars and all the current repercussions now being felt by the hunting world it might be easy to sit back and assume the war is over and all that remains is to mop up the last remaining vestiges of resistance. However, the reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it is undeniably true that hunting with hounds has been fundamentally damaged this is no time to rest on our laurels. The so-called Countryside Alliance are finally starting to find their voice in their defence of hunting but their attempts at damage limitation appear to be pretty poor due to the fact they are wholly based on the assertion that trail hunting is a legal activity. If carried out as it should then their claims could be considered credible however the webinars prove this is not the case and it doesn’t matter how much noise they make about it this is never going to change.

 

What was more laughable was the production of a video which was designed to show how trail hunting worked. With shots from both hand held and drone cameras along with titles to offer an explanation it did nothing more than prove what utter nonsense it all was. The production was cheesy to say the least and was so contrived it could have been a parody. The other problem was the hunt they chose to focus on, none other than the criminally convicted Kimblewick! It may have been better for the CA to choose a hunt that hadn’t been convicted of dragging a fox from its earth and throwing it on front of the hounds and also shooting most of their pack a few years ago as they all had bTB. It was obviously not shot at an actual hunt either as there were no field riders (except for a single female escorting a child – have to get a child in there) or their own soft underbelly, the terrier men. It was also amusing that they shot this piece at the same location that we sabbed them blatantly cubbing only last September. Of course I couldn’t help but bash out a quick a more realistic version . . .

Some other news was last night’s vote by Peterborough City Council to ban all hunting on their land. The motion brought by Councillor Ansar Ali said:

“Most registered hunts claim to now be ‘trail’ hunting, an activity invented after the ban which allows hunts to claim that any chase of a wild mammal is an accident rather than intentional. This Council resolves that it will not permit trail hunting, exempt hunting, hound exercise and hunt meets on its land.”

He told ITV News: “There should be no place for [hunting] in the 21st century. There is growing resentment from the general public for this outdated and cruel sport.”

While the amount of land that this will effect is only minimal it sends a clear message of public opinion and obviously that got up Bonner’s snout. He winged about setting a “dangerous precedent” and continued with their time honored claims of “cheap political stunts” and “class war”.

Hunt Sabs spokesperson Lee Moon summed up the vote:

“The trail hunting smokescreen has well and truly been blown away and the British public are finally seeing the truth about “trail” hunting.  The hunting community have been engaged in a nationwide conspiracy to commit illegal acts for the past 15 years and people are sick of it.  We expect many more Councils to follow suit as more and more landowners protect themselves from being dragged into criminal acts.”

Out in the fields the hunts will be making their own decisions. Many, in keeping with their inflated sense of entitlement and arrogance will continue to hunt live quarry regardless while others seem confused and unwilling to risk being caught out. This will no doubt be a reflection on their relationship with the local law enforcement authorities and the levels of corruption therein. Needless to say all senior officers won’t be able to plead ignorance of the criminality going on in the countryside as copies of the webinar have been sent out to every force in the country by the HSA.

While the criminal investigation takes place into the webinar we need to maintain the pressure and keep our opponents on the back foot. Keep lobbying local land owners and supporting your local sab groups. Covid-19 has seen the cancellation of most of the usual festive hunt meets which is a small bonus to the situation and likely to cause a significant loss of revenue, however hunts will still be meeting, largely in secret and desperate to avoid the presence of sabs, monitors and the general public so if you encounter a hunt or see suspicious activity you believe to be hunt related remember to call the HSA Tip Off Hotline (07443148426) as soon as you can with the details. It could save lives.

As you’re all aware through the lack of updates over the past year I decided to take a bit of a break from writing but I couldn’t let this story pass by and not comment, in fact I had a different angle lined up but held it back after some advice from someone in the know and I’m glad I did.

It’s been well over a week now since the Hunt Saboteurs Association published the webinars held by the Hunting Office that show senior members of the hunting world that included Lord Mancroft – Conservative Peer, Chair of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and former Chair of the Countryside Alliance and ex-senior police officers Phil Davies (more about him here) and Paul Jelley. Also present were Richard Tyacke – Chairman of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB), Hunting Office Executive Director and former Master and Huntsman of the Wynnstay Hunt as well as Mark Hankinson – MFHA Director, Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master of the Wilton Hunt.

 

Lord Mancroft – Or is it the eagle from the muppets?

It seemed that there was significant resistance by the mainstream media to cover the story but with the US elections, Brexit and Covid-19 still the main stories that was hardly surprising however it would be easy to suggest that the story was being suppressed as multiple copies of the video were removed from social media with bogus copyright claims. However the level of public interest on social media proved that this was never going to go away, much to the chagrin of everyone involved in hunting.

ITV News Story

Finally it was ITV that came forward and released the story with the added bonus that the police and CPS were actually looking into the situation to see if any crimes and been committed. From my perspective it’s fairly evident from the video and despite what the Hunting Office and the Countryside Alliance might try and claim that those present are conspiring to incite mass criminality, encouraging the many hunt  masters viewing the webinar that if they want to carry on hunting much as they did pre 2005 then all they have to do is follow a few simple rules and they’re good to go. In fact they go even further by offering financial support for any hunt caught hunting and facing prosecution, but only if they’ve followed their advice and created the “smokescreen” they go to such great length to describe and promote.

If you haven’t seen it already the full video’s can be viewed here: Video 1 and Video 2.

Full transcript can be download here and here.

It also seems pretty good timing that a TV crew from ITV were present and actually witnessed and filmed a fox being hunted by the Beaufort Hunt just before lockdown.

 

 

The Hunters response

What is also obvious is the lack of any real comment for the hunting community. The normally extremely vocal Tim Bonner of the CA took his time before uttering any sort of a word on the matter although it wasn’t a direct response to the webinar story and was more as a response to the amount of country that hunts will lose due to the withdrawing of the licenses by major land owners (more on that in a bit) and how they’ll still all be out on Boxing Day, however the official CA media accounts have also been strangely quiet, offering little more than the similar mumblings of the Hunting Office’s claims that the words of those speaking at the webinar had been taken out of context. There was a rather pathetic response from This is Hunting UK which got totally rinsed in the comments after which they posted some waffle about unity and some nice pictures of hounds, hardly a solid forward defensive stroke. Needless to say I’d like to be a fly on the wall at the Hunting Office right now. Head of Hunting at the CA, Polly Portwin is well known for spinning lies but even her abilities for growing a long nose would appear to significantly overmatched by the truth.

 

Hunting licenses suspended

There was significant pressure applies to all the major land owners by members of the public and anti hunt campaigners alike. The first to come out with a statement saying they would be suspending hunt licenses was Forestry England and like a house of cards it was only a matter of time before others followed. There had been a concerted effort to get the National Trust to ban hunting on it’s land, regardless of the unregulated conditions they had set previously they had always stubbornly refused to be drawn into any discussion and continually just replied with a standard response. This time however it would appear that they would be forced to take action and a couple of hours later they too withdrew all licenses on their land. United Utilities, the largest corporate land owner in the country were a little late to the party but they got there in the end and that’s the main thing. As I write more organisations who license hunts are currently reviewing the situation and are likely to follow suit.

Forestry England chief executive Mike Seddon: “We are clear when we give people licences or permission for activities in the nation’s forests that they must behave legally and responsibly or risk losing the right to carry on. Once we had confirmation from the police that they were investigating activities involving the Hunting Office, we suspended all licences granted to organisations that delegate work to them.”

United Utilities statement

 

So what happens next?

The police investigation will be headed by Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton, National Police Chief Council lead for fox hunting and part of Devon and Cornwall police. He was also author of the Operational Advice on Responding to Hunting Incidents document for the National Police Chiefs Council (this can be found online with a simple search for those with an interest). If I’m brutally honest I’d be really surprised if any prosecutions arose from the investigation however in the wider context hunting has been seriously damaged and those officers on the front line of policing who didn’t hold an opinion one way or another will be finding it very hard to believe anything that comes from the hunting community now knowing they’ve been treated as mugs for the last 15 years and those officers that have  supported hunting and known about the conspiracy all along won’t be feeling too confident in being able to support their mates in the hunts. I’ve been in touch with my local police force and needless to say they were very interested and the footage was disseminated to the rural crime team.

So could this be the end for them?

I doubt it’ll be the end anytime soon but this has been one of the best weeks I can remember and certainly brightened up a very dowdy 2020. If hunting is to continue they are going to have to pull some very big rabbits out of some very small hats and I simply don’t see any easy way out. This horrible minority pastime dressed up as a sport has been fundamentally damaged and it’s likely heads will roll but it doesn’t matter who’s running the show, I don’t believe there will be any significant recovery.

Finally

Huge credit must go to those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get this in the public domain and into the mainstream media. Once it finally broke there was an avalanche of stories and coverage on TV, online and the printed press. You know things are serious when even the Torygraph starts putting the boot in.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association have run an excellent campaign and in line with that are also running a funding page (click here) so they can increase the already mounting pressure and not let up. Money is something the hunting side have a lot of, it would be nice to be able to balance those books a little bit.

Online Zoom webinars run by the Hunting Office evidence a nationwide conspiracy by hunters to commit perjury and actively flout the 2005 ban on hunting with hounds.  Throughout the three hours of talks, hunts are clearly and repeatedly incited to engage in mass criminality and shown how to present a smokescreen to anyone watching.

The three webinars were part of a series that took place in August this year and were attended by over a hundred and fifty hunt masters from across the country.  The panel was made up of leaders of the hunting community including:

Lord Mancroft – Conservative Peer, Chair of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and former Chair of the Countryside Alliance.

Phil Davies – ex-Police Inspector and Police Liaison Consultant to the Countryside Alliance (more about him here)

Mark Hankinson – MFHA Director, Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master of the Wilton Hunt.

Richard Tyacke – Chairman of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB), Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master and Huntsman of the Wynnstay Hunt.

Paul Jelley – Master of the Chilmark and Clifton Foot Beagles from 1990 – 2013 and a Police Officer for 30 years.

These are the videos they are trying to suppress. Lets make sure they stay in the public domain.

 

Text and more information from The Hunt Saboteurs Association.

I’ve been a bit quiet recently but I make no apologies for that, it’s a busy time of year for everyone but add on the responsibility of the continued fight against the wildlife abusers and time becomes very tight indeed. But like the TV other other media outlets I thought I’d have a look back over the year to see how things have progressed and I might even make a few predictions for the future. So how did 2019 go?

In January the big story was the release of the video which showed the Kimblewick‘s terrier man and Chairman, Ian Parkinson and Mark Vincent dragging a fox from an artificial earth and throwing it in front of the hounds. The case would finally get to court a full 11 months later where both were found guilty and given suspended jail sentences. (full story here).

FoxCam_opt

February saw the Thurlow trial delayed once again, much to the frustration of all concerned however the reason was just a sick judge and not so-called Countryside Alliance skullduggery.

March saw us finally in court for the Thurlow trial and after 3 days we secured the conviction we were after. (Full story here). That wasn’t the end of the case however. As expected they appealed the conviction (as hunts always do) so it would be another date in court later in the year.

Speaking of appeals it was the end of April and we were back in court once again for the Fitzwilliam case. There was the addition of the highly questionable “expert witness” from the defence team but he proved worthless in the grand scheme of things and once again we won another hard fought victory (see here). Although the sentence was pathetic it was a huge moral victory over a hunt which remember spent over £120,000 on a worthless injunction in an effort to hide their criminal activities.

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Guilty – Ex Fitzwilliam Huntsam George Adams

The South Herefordshire Hunt case finally reached a conclusion and some highly questionable practices by West Mercia Police were also to come under the spotlight in an effort to scupper any further legal proceedings (full story here). As expected the hunting side made some rather pathetic noises in their defence but without doubt the tide would appear to be turning.

In June I received the written ruling on the Fitzwilliam case (see here). I was hoping this would effectively mean the end of hunts using the Bird of Prey Exemption within the Hunting Act. The ruling and the definitions within it were very clear but it seems some hunts are still claiming exempt hunting by parading a bird of prey around and even though it should be much easier to prove illegal hunting the authorities seem somewhat reluctant to get involved.  It should be very easy to stop this, remember any pursuit of the quarry by the hounds is illegal once that animal is flushed, and yet it’s still going on.

Big changes seemed to be taking place within the hunting hierarchy, something I picked up on last August with Lord Mancroft seemingly at odds with the rest of the CA’s top brass. Any internal disagreement in the hunting fraternity was obviously good news as far as I was concerned.

As we moved into autumn the cubbing season started but also the NFU and Government’s badger eradication policy. This blog started with the badger culls and it’s an absolute disgrace that after all this time it’s still going on. The fight continues.

In October we were in court once again for the Thurlow appeal although that had some unexpected twists in the tail. Although the pompous little Archie Clifton-Brown got off his assault charge we secured the conviction for the hunting act case against Chris Amatt after he did a deal with the prosecution, something we were only too happy to agree to and for the first time in several years I was free from outstanding legal proceedings (full story here). Archie is still knocking about with his Uncle Vesty at the Thurlow, although now he seems to have his own security wannabe in tow. I wonder what he’s scared of?

IMG-20191223-WA0003

Archie dressed as an old man. Photo courtesy of Suffolk & Essex Sabs

As mentioned earlier the Kimblewick were in court in November and we all had a good laugh at a rather pathetic attempt by the CA to show trail hunting and make some frankly daft claims against sabs. I took this apart and for some reason the video produced by the hunt side was also taken down. Obviously they were pretty embarrassed by it but you’d have thought they’d have looked at it properly before splashing it all over social media (see here).

And that was pretty much it.

In the fields hunts are still killing foxes and they are largely still getting away with it however the successes in the courts over the past year have proved that they are certainly not having everything their own way. While the election result was disappointing it will not change anything from my perspective. It’s still very much business as usual and the same can be said for all the wildlife protectors out there. What I think is important is that even now the hunting community accept they are on a downward spiral and are trying desperately to maintain their cruel way of life. After a fabulously concerted campaign by West Midlands Hunt Sabs the Atherston went to the wall taking a beagle pack with it. Hunt attendances are down despite claims to the contrary and even the Government accepts that hunting is a toxic issue as there is no mention of a repeal of the act in their plans for the future. Having said that Boris is a pathological liar and he’s appointed ex-CA attack dog Simon Hart to the cabinet as minister for Wales.

Hunting isn’t going away any time soon. However I can see more mergers of hunts in the future as hunt country becomes scarcer and attendances drop. They may try and paint this as a win but ultimately it’ll be one less pack of hounds marauding around the countryside. Remember the Kimblewick are an amalgamation of 4 hunts. I also have a feeling a pack very local to me is in some serious trouble and we’ll be doing our very best to help it along the way and consign it to history.

So that just leaves me to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and I’ll update you with all the action over the festive period in due course. Why not get out there on Boxing Day and find your local hunt demo and voice you opinion against them. A list can be found (here). There’s also one for the Kimblewick, details here.

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