Posts Tagged ‘Lord Mancroft’

There would appear to be something not quite right in the world of hunting. OK, that’s pretty obvious as you have to be morally corrupt to even consider hunting as acceptable but here I’m talking about the major players in the make up of hunting organisations.

Lord Mancroft is the Chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association and the Council of Hunting Associations. He was until recently a board member of the so-called Countryside Alliance, having been a member at the CA’s creation in 1997 and deputy Chairman of the British Field Sports Society (forerunner of the CA) since 1992.  In his own words:

“I have been intimately involved in the political battle for hunting for more than 30 years”.

Obviously a charming chap.

The point of interest here is that he has been removed from the board of the CA and this news was released in a short article in the Nag & Mutt (Horse & Hound) last June. The term “removed” is an interesting one. Clearly his departure from the board wasn’t exactly amicable and there seems to be very little in terms of an explanation for his departure from the CA. The normally vocal CEO Dim Tim Bonner has been conspicuously quiet on the matter, making only a minimal statement on what they’re doing to increase the PR of hunting and who they currently have in place to do that, with Mancroft not even getting a mentioned.

Mancroft himself offers a bit more as to why he was booted out saying:

“I have been asking questions about the CA’s apparent unwillingness or failure to defend hunting politically or engage in any proactive PR”.

So I think it’s pretty clear that there’s been some in significant disagreements within the CA’s top brass and Mancroft, clearly not very happy about the current state of affairs had openly voiced his opinions which lead to the divorce. Obviously from my point of view this is all good stuff. You can’t beat a nice bit of in fighting among the ranks of your enemy and its certainly not the first time Bonner has come in for criticism, only now it seems that the criticism is coming from further up the food chain.

Official_portrait_of_Lord_Mancroft_crop_2

Lord Mancroft

And that’s not all.

Below is a screen shot from the jobs section in H&H.

job advert

These are some of the top jobs in hunting.

The Hunting Office is described as:

“The administrative hub for the Council of Hunting Associations.  The Hunting Office exists to help and advise Masters and its member Hunts.  It represents and supports packs of hounds from fourteen hunting associations in England, Scotland and Wales, providing advice on all matters regarding hunting activities, hunt management and hound health & welfare”.

In case you don’t know the MFHA is:

“The Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) is the Governing Body for registered packs of Foxhounds and represents 171 packs that hunt within the law in England and Wales and a further 8 in Scotland”.

The purpose of the AMHB is:

 “. . . to oversee the promotion and proper management of the Harrier and Beagle hunts”.

If all of these key personnel positions are vacant then it would seem that the vessel which oversees all things hunting could well be rudderless. There’s something distinctly whiffy going on in the halls of hunting and it doesn’t look good for them.

In the real world the compassionate side of the hunting argument have been hugely successful in utilising all the social media platforms available and getting the message out there. While sabs and monitors continue to upload damming videos and images of hunts breaking the law those involved in the criminality have been retreating further into their own fishbowl.

The successful prosecutions of the Thurlow & Fitzwilliam, the Meynell & South Staffs hunt awaiting trail, the conviction of the South Herefordshire hunt fox cub killers, the Kimblewick hunt staff awaiting trial, the Belvoir hunt paying out almost £50K in damages to LACS employees . . . all this is starting to add up and the powers that be in the hunting world are, to be quite frank, crapping themselves. Is it rats leaving a sinking ship or perhaps have we had a night of the long knives?

Hunting is also under pressure for other reasons, continued urbanisation and changes in land ownership mean there’s less areas to hunt. Some land owners no longer want the hunt on their land and the potential for conflict and negative press that comes with them. Shooting interests have increased and while I obviously have no love for this either the last thing shoots want is a bunch of rampant hounds and riders charging through their area and scattering the game birds all over the place before they can be shot (this happened last season while we were sabbing the Oakley, all very amusing for us). Another problem they have is that the old guard of experienced huntsmen are retiring and there simply isn’t the new blood coming through to take up these jobs. Let’s face it, apart from those actually involved in hunting everyone is going to hate you, the pay is probably pretty bad and there’s a fair chance you’ll end up in court.

Not exactly an appealing job description.

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.

Tim Lawson Cruttenden

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:

barnard and bonner1

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.

bonner and sabs part 2

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.