Posts Tagged ‘Bird of Prey exemption’

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).

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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?

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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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This time tomorrow I’ll be at Peterborough Crown Court for what I assume will be the final instalment of what feels like the never ending Fitzwilliam Hunt conviction saga. I’ve covered the story in great depth through previous blog posts so it’s pointless to go over everything again but if you want to catch up then see here, here, here and here.

I’m not really sure how things will pan out but you can never tell with Hunting Act cases in particular and I’m sure the main chance for the hunt overturning the conviction is the hope for a more sympathetic judge. The simple fact is their evidence isn’t going to get any better and having faced the defence’s cross examination for over 2 hours previously I wonder what they are going to come at me with this time.

There’s also the wider implications this may have for the Bird of Prey Exemption within the Hunting Act. If the original decision of the court is upheld other hunts which use this smokescreen will have to seriously reconsider how they operate.

Regardless of the outcome I have to be pleased we’ve dragged them through the courts and secured a conviction first time round. That’s a rarity in itself. From my own point of view and certainly that of everyone else who witnessed the proceedings on the day there’s no doubt of the guilt of George Adams (the now retired Fitzwilliam huntsman). I just hope the Judge presiding tomorrow see’s it the same way as District Judge John Wollard did on the original case.

In his summing up his statement spoke volumes.

“You are either taking part in Falconry, or hunting foxes with hounds. If you are taking part in Falconry you do not need a full pack of hounds to flush the animal, you would use only 2 or 3 of a more suitable breed. Therefore I can only assume you were taking part in hunting foxes”.

Finger crossed.

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George Adams with the Fitzwilliam Hounds.

Well after a brief break from blogging and another trip north of the border in what had to be the coldest week of the summer (it barely got above 13-14°C for the whole week) I’m back to catch up with whats been going on.

One story which obviously came to my attention was the death of 10 hounds and the injury to a cyclist after the collision with a car. The hounds in question belonged to the Cottesmore Hunt, you may remember them from a season ago when their terrier men assaulted sabs and one of their supporters brandished a heavy chain, swinging it wildly like a maniac which could have caused serious injury had it connected with its intended target  (incidentally no charges were forthcoming from Leicestershire Police, surprise surprise).

Obviously no-one from either side of the hunting debate would wish a tragic event like this but one has to question the reality of the situation and the reaction from supporters of hunting. While I don’t know the full details the hunt supporters were very quick to apportion blame, both on the driver of the vehicle and, you guessed it – sabs.

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Where the incident happened

It’s very easy to jump to conclusion without knowing the full facts however having observed hounds being exercised and transferred along country roads you have to question the sense and logic behind how this takes place. Having a kennel man on a bicycle with a whip on what is likely to be a bendy country road with a full pack of hounds (probably at least 15 couple) is obviously a recipe for disaster. Dogs do not have any idea of road safety and that many hounds could easily fill a narrow country lane and with these on a blind bend then the outcome is hardly surprising. This isn’t the first time hounds have been killed while being exercised (see here ) and I have no doubt it won’t be the last. Was the driver speeding as the hunt supporters claim or were they merely an innocent party going about their business who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

What was even more laughable were the claims that this was actually the work of sabs. Just think about that for a moment. A sab intentionally drove their vehicle at speed into a pack of hounds.

To say it’s utterly ridiculous is an understatement.

First off most sabs are vegans. Harming any animal goes against the very ethos of veganism and the ideal by which we live. We believe hounds are as big a victim of hunting as the animals they are trained and forced to hunt. Even ignoring this the legal ramifications of potentially losing ones license make the stupidity of those actions only bettered by the morons who suggested it in the first place. Here are a few of those comments posted on a pro hunting Facebook group.

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Aren’t they all just wonderful? One has to question where and how this rumour started? The same old tired and jaded stereotypical opinions such as claims of being hypocrits and their usual favourite (terrorists) are being wheeled out once more without any shred of evidence to support the claims but then this is of course nothing new and hardly unexpected.

As it turns out this proved to be somewhat of an embarrassment for that particular group and it had to delete all the comments blaming sabs and publish a post contradicting all those slathering hunt supporters looking to blame.

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Well at least that’s cleared up then but was the driver really out of control? It should also be noted that the driver of the vehicle hasn’t been charged with any traffic offences so the police clearly believe none had taken place which would suggest the claims by the hunt that they were out of control are also innacurate. Regardless of that what are the necessary requirement for exercising a large number of hound on a public road? I’m fairly sure Joe public would’t be allowed to walk a large number of dogs who weren’t controlled by a lead on a public highway. As hunting hounds come under the classification of working dogs the same laws don’t apply – perhaps they should.

Finally the longest hunting case in history (I made that up but it certainly feels like it) will be resolved on the 14th January 2019, a full 3 years after the offence took place. This will be the appeal of convicted Fitzwilliam huntsman George Adams. Let’s hope we can get this written into case law at the crown court and finally the ridiculous Bird of Prey Exemption can be written into history.

 

At least I did, but apparently not.

I thought I’d written my last piece on the Fitzwilliam case as I explained here. However I have been informed by the court witness liaison that George Adams is going to appeal his conviction. This immediately bought into question the issue of the time limit for any appeal. As already stated in my blog post previously this is 21 days and those 21 days have long since past. I have asked the witness liaison to question this and he will be getting back to me in due course. Further examination of this rule was clearly required and indeed there is an option to apply to a Crown Court for permission to appeal.

At the time of writing I can’t be sure that the appeal wasn’t submitted within the 21 day limit and it has just taken this long to filter back to me however even by British Judiciary standards this would seem to be excessively slow. If indeed it was submitted after the date and permission for an appeal needs to be sought then I would imagine they would have to cite some fairly important reasons to justify this and there is still possibility this will be thrown out before any trial hearing.

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George Adams – (Photo by Terry Harris)

So what does this mean?

Well, assuming it goes ahead then the case will be reheard in a Crown Court. This is a hugely risky strategy for the so called Countryside Alliance. Bearing in mind the original case was heard by a District Judge and not a normal Magistrate (which would normally be the case) the original decision may have more bearing. Also should the decision once again go against them the verdict will be written into case law, all hunts which use the Bird of Prey Exemption will have to use another method to circumnavigate the law as that one will have been proven in a Crown Court to be illegal. One wonders why the CA would put that at risk? Are they really that desperate to clear a retired huntsman’s name? Is it in fact the hunt which are pushing this to clear themselves of having a conviction next to the name? I’ve no doubt there will be a team of expensive lawyers in an office somewhere pawing over the law books looking for a chink of light with which they think they can overturn the original conviction. Both the CA and the Fitzwilliam certainly have the necessary resources to alloy this.

The only real concern is a more sympathetic judge for the defence. It wouldn’t be the first time a less than impartial member of the judiciary has ruled in a Hunting Act case and I doubt it will be the last. We can only hope that if it does go to court once again we get the same outcome with an impartial judge and we strengthen our case on this particular part of the Hunting Act. One has to wonder what their angle of attack will be considering the complete failure of the previous defence. I guess we’ll wait and see.

UPDATE: After a further conversation with the court liaison it would appear that the appeal was submitted just within the time limit. Apparently there was some sort of delay between the submission to the Magistrates Court for the appeal and that transferring to the Crown. Well, I’m going back to court . . .