Posts Tagged ‘Lord Mancroft’

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.

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.

1

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.

AA

 

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.