Posts Tagged ‘LACS’

Well that didn’t take long.

Since the National Trust vote on trail hunting there’s been a lot of interest in what would happen next, and rightly so. I’m not going to comment on the irregularities of the vote itself (that’s for another time) but instead I’m going to look at what’s actually happening in the field.

Before the vote the NT released a set of rules by which all hunts would have to abide by. I covered those in a previous blog entry here (The Pressure Mounts). However it soon became apparent that the so-called Countryside Alliance were pressuring the NT to drop some of these rules. Of course there’s no surprise there, as we all know trail hunting is merely a cover for real hunting and the rules as advertised would effectively curtail that and with the opening meets of the main hunting season taking place over the last couple of weekends all eyes were watching to see what would take place.

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Reports were soon emerging of hunts using NT land where no licenses had been issued.

Had these hunts been licensed to use the land or were they trespassing? They were certainly not abiding by the rules set out by the NT as there were terrier men present and also quad bikes were being driven along with the hunt, both were to be excluded in the new set of rules. Of course there was no way of knowing what kind of substance was being used as a trail or even if a trail had even been laid (highly unlikely).

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West Somerset Vale Hunt with terrier man with quad on NT land last weekend (Quantock Hills).

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Clearly searchinging for live quarry complete with terrier men (Quantock Hills).

The examples above are a clear and blatant violation of the new rules set out by the NT.

What is even more disturbing is now the NT seemed to have caved in to the pressure by the so-called CA by reneging on their promise to publish meet locations in advance. Their original statement is shown below.

“Greater transparency for our members and the public.  We will post on our website the agreed days and locations, in advance, for our members and supporters to view. This will include a primary point of contact for each hunt”.

Now it seems that they will no longer do this.

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So the NT are claiming that they have been advised by the police not to publish meets and claim this has been done avoid any potential unrest.

Unrest from who?

Clearly if the NT wish to remain open and transparent there has to be the ability to independently monitor any hunt which uses NT land. The NT have already stated they don’t have the resources to do it themselves so therefore the only option is for other groups to do so. Whether these be monitors from LACS, independent or members from local sab groups makes no difference, the only time there is any conflict and violence it comes from the hunting side, both those actively taking part and their supporters. One has to wonder whether the NT did actually consult with the police or they are just using this as a handy excuse. And if they did it would suggest a level of collusion within the police force that they consulted.

Either way the NT are being shown up once again for what they really are, a big land owner who facilitates an illegal activity for the benefit of an influential minority. If the NT don’t take immediate action against the hunts in question we can only assume that all the fine words and statements were in fact complete lies and only there to help swing the vote on trail hunting.

One commentator on social media summed things up perfectly:

“As hunts are not monitored and specific routes wont be published how the hell are you (the NT) or anybody else going to be able to make sure our wildlife is protected from those who wish to slaughter it for the fun of it by calling it an incident? With an independent investigation imminent your charitable status is teetering on the edge of that hole you’re digging”.

I concur.

Keep up the pressure. Contact the NT and let them know your views. Twitter, Facebook, Phone: 03448001895 Email: enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk

UPDATE: It seems the NT did promise to publish routes etc in the AGM material (thanks to Lou for the image (see below).

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On Monday (1/8) the trustees of the League Against Cruel Sports voted unanimously to keep their investigation team and in doing so overruled the intentions of the current senior management team. This is of course fabulous news not only for those who had their jobs on the line but also for our wildlife which needs all the help it can get from those who wish to do it harm in the most heinous manner.

I have no doubt that the public outcry and huge number of complaints the trustees received would have played a significant part in their decision making and everyone who took the time to contact them should be proud of the role they played. Public opinion should never be underestimated and as a charity which relies on the generosity of said public the risk of losing a large part of their revenue stream was simply too great. I had many people contact me and declare that should the investigations team be removed then they would be sending their donations elsewhere.

So what next?

Current CEO Eduardo Goncalves is still on long term sick leave however can still be seen regularly on twitter. Current acting head Philipa King (who I wrote about here) is being labelled as CEO in the most recent press releases however she would seem to be in a somewhat difficult situation having been completely undermined by the trustees and clearly has no idea what it really takes to run LACS or indeed even a real stomach for the fight. Whatever the outcome I hope that the recent restrictions placed on the investigations team will be removed and they can be completely let of the leash so they can effectively get on with the job of bringing more of these repeat offending criminal hunts to justice.

 

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It’s been a busy week news wise in the world of wildlife protection but 2 main stories caught the eye. First off was the release of evidence showing the wanton destruction of wildlife by gamekeepers connected to the Grouse Shooting industry in the Peak District National Park including the illegal killing of Badgers. This was release by H.I.T (Hunt Investigation Team), the same people who exposed the South Herefordshire Hunt when  they fed live fox cubs to the hounds at their kennels.

The footage they released is very disturbing and shows the level of persecution our wildlife is submitted to all in the name of game shooting. Of course this is nothing new to me but their videos are hard hitting and combined with the fact that this is a national park and close to several wildlife sanctuaries is doubly worrying. Their undercover investigation was centered round the Moscar Estate, owner by the Duke of Rutland. Take a look at their website for the full details (link above) and more videos. It’s a great bit of work no doubt undertaken in trying circumstances and I take my hat off to them.

 

Next up was a story broke by Stop the Cull and centered around allegations that The League Against Cruel Sports were going to lay off all their investigators and had been infiltrated at the highest levels by pro hunt supporter. This of course led to all sorts of arguments on social media so I did a little digging myself and had it confirmed by a current LACS employee that they were going through a consultation process prior to restructuring. In the real world that just means that they were effectively on notice prior to being laid off.

STC then released an anonymous email which had been sent to them. See below:

The recent events at The League Against Cruel Sports and the attempt to get rid of investigators has caused a lot of distress, anger and confusion for LACS members, those that are just against bloodsports, animal rights campaigners and staff members themselves. As somebody who operates within the league and has a first hand account of day to day events I felt that I must intervene and clear up one or two points. This is not an official statement as you will see below.

> > > > First, many of the staff at the League are a great dedicated team of people, working hard to help protect animals from bloodsports, but it only takes one or two in a high level position, with their own personal agendas, to cause a company or organisation to go off target and here is a sad example below.

> > > > Much comment on social media has been made of the Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Goncalves, but you should be looking at the person who really is controlling the league at the moment, Phillipa King and question her position and motives. A person who owns horses and rides among a fox hunting community, deep within hunting country in the South of England, lives an exceptionally lavish lifestyle and has never had any interest in animal protection in her life, including to present day. She came here to LACS not very long ago and her role was a relatively minor one, but then she was suddenly made head of operations, basically controlling the day to day operations of the whole organisation, including how the investigators worked. She has NO knowledge, NO former experience and absolutely NO skills in operational work whatsoever, coming from a background of modelling and other unsuited jobs, but here she is, earning well over fifty thousand pounds a year and HEAD of operations, earning almost three times as much as what the investigators earn and as Eduardo, the CEO, is sick for the next few months, incredibly, Phillipa King is now acting Chief Executive Officer.

Her decisions and general behavior has caused members of staff to reluctantly resign and many hundreds of thousands of pounds to be wasted. She is responsible for huge amounts of League money to be squandered on ill thought out ideas which come to nothing. She is now persuading the League to move away from hunting and onto other non hunting related issues. She stays at 5 star hotels and recently permitted people, working for her and on behalf of the League, to stay at the Hilton Hotel on League money.

Since Phillipa became acting CEO she has instigated and implemented the removal of ALL League employee investigators and has attempted to keep the plan from as many staff as possible until she was ready to role the plan out. The “consultation” is just a legal process before the investigators are all sacked. Phillipa has already begun employing outside source investigators who know nothing about the issues and work just for the money and not for the animals. They cost far more than the present, experienced, knowledgeable and highly motivated investigators and so again we must question her motives, not just about this but about all of her actions and decisions since she has been in the position to influence trusties, staff and even members.

Phillipa has clearly not realised the repercussions of her actions, but she will understand the damage it is causing this charity. If people want an organisation that works hard, spends prudently and gets results which actually makes a difference then people should be concerned that this person has control and influence of such an organisation.

I then decided to do a little digging on Philipa King (or Peck). It would seem she’s had no previous work experience in the animal welfare sector but in fact worked for religious organisations. Although not an issue in itself I’m always slightly concerned by religious leanings as the bible promotes dominion over all animals and many hunters seem to hold these same views. I also had a very quick trawl through the friends list on her Facebook profile and revealed an interest person (see below).

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This is a composite image from her facebook page, notice the likes and group membership. You would think a person like Philipa working in a senior manager position for an organisation dedicated to the defence of our wildlife would be a little more careful with the sort of friends she kept. This, to me clearly illustrates that the LACS job is nothing more than that, a job, and she clearly has no real interest in the cause as a whole. Whether she’s actually a CA plant is another matter but regardless of that it appears to be a bad appointment from someone looking in from the outside. Interestingly shortly after my discovery Philipa changed the security settings on her profile and hid all her friends.

Yesterday I received a text message from a friend who had attended the LACS AGM and she voiced her conclusions in no uncertain terms. Now obviously this is only the opinion of an individual but its interesting none-the-less. She said:

“It is my belief that they (LACS) have done a deal with the CA (Countryside Alliance) to leave prosecutions well alone. The current executives are corrupt and have deliberately done nothing with the evidence gathered by their own investigators”.

If this is indeed the case then it is a truly sorry state of affairs. The investigators at LACS are a highly professional and specialised group of people who constantly put themselves in physical danger to gain the evidence required to bring these criminals to justice. If the senior management at LACS aren’t doing anything with this evidence then its down to them and not the people at the coal face taking all the risks. If LACS were to dispense with their services they would become nothing more than a lobbying group who’s real goals would be somewhat shrouded in uncertainty. Should they outsource the investigations side of things then they would be wide open to more infiltration by unscrupulous individuals.

My own personal view is that there has been a complete loss of faith in the senior management, both Philipa and Eduardo Concalves don’t seem to trust each other and certainly have different ideas about how to proceed. The trustees have no practical experience are clearly at a loss as well and are blundering blindly down a path that could spell disaster and seriously compromise the fight against illegal hunting. I hope this situation can be resolved and LACS can get back to what they once were. However all know now is the CA must be laughing their socks off, hunts will feel empowered to continue to break the law and that can’t be allowed to continue .

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This week I have a guest blog for you and it’s written by National Dis-Trust.  They are a group of voluntary campaigners from across the country calling on The National Trust to save their reputation & kick off the criminal hunts from NT land. They are working alongside other grassroots groups and volunteers for this sole objective.

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Convicted wildlife killers the Meynell Hunt still use NT land

Earlier this year in March, staff from The League Against Cruel Sports met with The National Trust to talk about concerns relating to illegal hunts on their land, concerns
which are shared by an increasing amount of people. The League’s statement on this meeting shows that The Trust make little effort to enforce or monitor the conditions that
the hunts agree to; instead, the hunts simply state they are adhering to the licenses, regardless of the truth. Subsequent internal discussions within The Trust, it seems, have
resulted in little change and apparently no further correspondence with The League. Subsequent to this meeting, The Trust claimed it would do more for declining wildlife – strange, then, that they rejected The League’s offer of assistance in monitoring hunts on their land, given that brown hares (a priority of conservation) sometimes find
themselves amongst the unfortunate legion of victims. We can’t imagine why they would
refuse such an offer.

If you flick around The Trust’s website for long enough, you may find their (seemingly
deliberately hidden) policy that demonstrates their unwavering faith in so-called ‘trail
hunting’ whilst conveniently omitting all information regarding their licensing of fox
hunting in Northern Ireland, where this bloodsport sadly remains legal, hence the
existence of the campaign group ‘Ban Fox & Stag Hunting Northern Ireland’. Given the
overwhelming opposition to these ‘sports’, is this not something The Trust should tell the
public before taking their subscriptions?

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There are two huge problems with their ‘trail hunt’ policy; the first is the Trail Of Lies
report published by The International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2015. This
report drew on hundreds of field reports from hunts across the country and surprisingly,
99% of them failed to lay ‘trails’. The Trust’s Director-General, Dame Helen Ghosh, is
well aware of this evidence; it has been presented to her and she has read it (watch this
video of a lecture she gave as proof, from 59:30 to 63:00), though seemingly to no avail.
The second is that it is not actually legal to use fox urine to lay ‘trails’ for a myriad of
reasons, and that the supplier of fox urine that some hunts tell The Trust they use doesn’t
actually exist (shocker!). A recent Freedom of Information request to DEFRA’s Animal &
Plant Health Agency (APHA) has revealed that there have been only one license granted
for importing fox substance from 2014 onwards, and it wasn’t related to hunting. As with
the ‘Trail Of Lies’ report, The Trust are well aware of these facts.

Fox hunting, and the fate of The Hunting Act 2004 which remains the only real legal
protection for the brown hare, were huge issues in the election earlier this year. Some
Conservative MP’s who lost their seats said fox hunting was a crucial factor in the result.
The blind arrogance of those who think fox hunting has a future even led Countryside
Alliance CEO, Tim Bonner, to claim that the Conservative landslide would result in a
majority of 103 seats. The irony in this is that earlier in the year, Dame Helen Ghosh was giving talks under the title of ‘What Are The Challenges Facing The National Trust In The 21st Century?’

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So perhaps it is time The Trust heeded the message of the recent election. You need only briefly skim their Facebook page to see how little weight their defense of ‘trail hunting’ is carrying with the general public, and no wonder; fox hunting and their counterpart packs for hares or mink and otters rightly sicken the overwhelming majority of us, and few people believe in the lies of the hunt lobby anymore. On mink hunting, The Chair and Founder of The UK Wild Otter Trust, Dave Webb, recently offered an unexpected (but welcome) interjection by stating that not only did he believe that mink hunts were continuing to hunt illegally (regardless of your opinion of mink, it is illegal to pursue them with packs of hounds) but that they also implied that they considered them to be pursuing otters, which are thankfully increasing in number. He said if proof was brought to his organisation, he would begin to take legal proceedings. The National Trust, on the other hand, appear to have no objection to offering ‘trail hunt’ licenses to mink-packs.

So what can people do about this? Well, a members resolution has now been submitted to put a stop to these ‘trail hunt’ licenses on The Trust’s land. It will be put to a vote on 21st October this year, at their AGM. Anybody who has been a member for 70 days before this date is entitled to a vote, according to their regulations. We urge anybody capable of doing so to offer their votes to this end, and help us shut down ‘trail hunting’ on Trust land.