Posts Tagged ‘Monitors’

So it’s been a very busy week.

It’s pretty common knowledge now that the Fitzwilliam Hunt have initiated court proceedings against both myself and pretty much every other sab they know of (and some they don’t) in the form of an injunction. Obviously the purpose of this injunction is to remove the very people (from the countryside) who document their illegal activities and who have brought them to justice in the past.

Injunctions are nothing new in hunting. I wrote about a case involving the Crawley & Horsham (see here) and prior to the hunting ban the Brocklesby and the Fitzwilliam themselves were granted injunctions against anti-hunt activists, which I believe still stand, however pre-ban injunctions can’t really be compared with the current situation, the times they are a changing!

Obviously it would be very easy for us to let the injunction go unchallenged, after all legal proceedings like this are VERY expensive and the Fitzwilliam have Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland (4th Baronet) at their helm, a man of vast wealth and land ownership. It’s a name not shy of appearing in the UK’s top 1000 rich list and reportedly worth in the region of £174 million (2016).

And this is where their sense of entitlement comes from.

I’ve always been of the opinion that certain types of person, when pushed into a corner will always revert to type and throw whatever they have the most of at the problem. Old Phil is throwing his money at the issue in an attempt to buy the hunt impunity from  any sort of monitoring or prosecution. (See the Canary story here).

What has really warmed my heart and put some of my faith back into humanity is the overwhelming response we’ve had from the good old British General Public. We were never really sure how well our Crowd Justice funding would do and we prepared as best we could and made sure the word really got out on social media but ultimately we needn’t have worried. On the first day alone it raised over £6000 and had reached it’s target of £12000 only 2 days later. The stats make very interesting reading with the average donation being £21 and those donations coming from a huge demographic and age rage which once again proves that hunting and the people behind it truly are universally despised. We are of course hugely grateful to each and every person who donated. We couldn’t have carried this through without them.

What next?

We have employed a good legal team and will face them in the High Court on the 1st November. We all feel that it’s our duty to fight this, not only so we can continue to monitor hunts and call them to account but also for the rights of the common person. We simply cannot let it stand that those wealthy enough can simply buy their own laws and protection. This goes further than just hunting, this is about our right to protest, be that hunting or fracking, a genuine David vs Goliath and make no bones about it, we have a rock in our proverbial slingshot and we’re taking aim.

First off apologies for the lack of recent updates. As much as I’d to say I’d been sunning myself somewhere exotic the reality is I’ve been in bed with flu. Not the man flu type but the proper “kill me now” one. Between the bouts of coughing and splitting headache I had to endure the awful daytime TV, anyway enough about me . . .

It was noted by someone on Facebook recently that the amount of anti-hunt stories and videos making it into the mainstream media this year was incredible and they’re absolutely right. I’ve never known so many stories and videos being published. Of course sabs and montiors are no mugs when it comes to wielding a video camera and utilising social media but I think what makes this year stand out is both the quality and quantity with even the traditionally pro-hunt papers unable to resist the news which the public clearly crave and feel so strongly about.

In light of this you would think that the hunts would be doing their best to avoid any adverse publicity but it seems the opposite is true. There have been a significant number of hunt kills this season and many have been captured in all their gruesome detail. This in turn has to some extent forced the police to act, largely due to the will of public opinion and while these acts of barbarism continue to take place in our countryside support for a complete ban will certainly grow. Even though it was a manifesto promise by the tories it seems any kind of a vote on a repeal would be a long way off right now and even the most staunch hunting supporter would have to admit that it is extremely unlikely that any such vote could be won. As more and more bad PR comes in it only fuels the fire of those against this archaic bloodsport and pushes those either ignorant or undecided firmly into the anti camp.

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The victims windscreen.

This was highlighted perfectly by an incident which was reported to us by a member of the public asking for advice.

It appears our local hunt (the Oakley) were hunting in the vicinity of Meppershall, Bedfordshire. The light was fading and going about their business this person happened upon the hunt while driving the lanes. With hounds and quad bikes all over the road it was lucky a more serious incident didn’t take place however it would seem that Jack Harris (or Calamity Jack as we call him) took exception to someone else having the temerity to use the public highway by smashing the windscreen of this persons car with his riding whip.

Fortunately this person also had a dash cam running and recorded the whole incident. This has of course been passed on to the police and a complaint been made. The sheer arrogance show by the huntsman and the hunt in general is astounding. What right do they have to behave in this manner and the belief that they own the road? Hopefully Jack will be prosecuted for Criminal Damage and the Masters have the decency to offer a public apology and pay for the damage caused. Old Lady Lydia Thompson (Oakley Master) is worth a few bob so paying for a new windscreen would be a drop in the ocean for someone of her means but she looks tighter than a camels arse in a sandstorm so I won’t hold my breath.

Next up was an incident which happened near Allerton, North Yorkshire on the 28th January. Hounds from the York & Ainsty North Hunt ran on to the busy A1 bringing both carriages to a standstill. Unfortunately, but hardly surprisingly a hound was struck by a car and killed. The lady who was driving the car was obviously clearly distressed by the incident however the outcome could have been significantly worse. This kind of reckless behaviour by a hunt is nothing new but once again it only reinforces the fact that they were openly hunting as no trail would be laid in such a dangerous place. Not only that but the current trend by huntsman to let the hounds go off by some distance so they can claim an accidental kill should it happen increases the likelihood of these kind of incidents occurring. Hounds under control of the huntsman would be in no danger of crossing busy main roads and putting themselves and the general public at risk.

Hounds however are just dispensable tools of this grisly trade and hunts would rather lose a few hounds than face prosecution for illegal hunting. Of course this pays little consideration to other countryside and road users as hounds run riot where they please be it private gardens or busy roads.

Lastly there was the kill by the Cheshire Foxhounds caught on video by Cheshire Hunt Sabs. In their report on the incident they suspect the fox was bagged prior to the hunt and released in front of the hounds. Full report can be found on their Facebook page. This story like so many other recently made the national media with even the Daily Mail reporting on it.

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Cheshire police issued the fairly standard statement regarding the incident however this type of response doesn’t fill you with a lot of hope regarding any sort of robust investigation and follow up. But the bigger picture shows once again that the hunts are being caught in the act and regardless of the police the will of the general public against hunting will only be strengthened as these barbaric practices committed by a tiny minority are brought to the attention of everyone.

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Standard response.

In the day and age of social media and instant news where everyone is carrying a recording device of some sort you’d think the hunts would be on their best behaviour and try to maintain the image of fine upstanding members of the rural communities the Countryside Alliance paint them out to be however with these constant slip ups in the PR war they’re not just shooting themselves in the foot, they’re laying the foundations for a more solid and reasonable law with which to defend our wildlife and bringing more sabs and monitors into the fields. However I get the feeling that they already well aware of this, know their nasty activity is on borrowed time and are just arrogantly making hay while they can.

This time last year it was my unfortunate duty to report on a rather grim festive season (see here). This year however I’m pleased to report that things were significantly different. Both hunts I attended were the same as previous years but the difference this time round was the lack of any attempt by the hunts in question (the Cambridge with Enfield Chace and the Fitzwilliam) to actually hunt. Considering Boxing Day and the first New Years hunt are traditionally the biggest days in the hunting calendar this would appear to seem a little odd. Of course they still paraded in all their finery around the local villages and soaked  up the adulation from the hardcore sychophants and hangers on but while they may have talked a big show the reality was significantly different. Judging by information received from other hunts it would seem these weren’t isolated incidents either. So  lets ask ourselves, what was the cause of these changes of plan?

Media attention and public scrutiny.

It has been widely reported recently both on social media and the mainstream press that hunts continue to openly flout the ban. I’ve reported on this blog several times (see here and here) about hunts that have been caught pretty much red handed and yet there is often little or no police action over the incidents. However a very recent poll suggested that support for the ban was in fact at its highest level since its introduction and while these reports can no longer be swept under the carpet, regardless of police inaction the general public will still be made aware of what is really happening and react accordingly. With technology making the recording of high quality video and photographs freely available to all its no surprise that these incidents are captured and they will continue to as long as someone is there to witness it.

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The Cambridge with Enfield Chace just going for a ride on Boxing Day

The growth in numbers of Sabs and Monitors.

Despite the claims to the contrary by Dim Tim Bonner and the CA the membership of the HSA has soared over the last few years. The initial main reason for this was the badger cull where those making their first step in activism came into contact with sabs and they realised it was something they could get on board with, realising that sabs were just normal people and not the urban terrorists some sections of the media made them out to be. Again social media is being well used by sab groups and monitors and the public are seeing the injustices that are taking place and they are understandably getting angry and joining up. This in turn has increased the pressure on the hunts as more sabs and monitors are available to keep an eye on what is going on and step in if necessary. Even a small number of sabs can have a huge impact on a hunting day, even more can stop one completely. Hunts have little option but to run or stick within the law when faced with lots of sabs on their hunting territory.

Has the Countryside Alliance told them to no get caught on the big days out?

Getting busted for hunting illegally is a real pain in the backside for the PR people at the CA. They love to claim there has been so few convictions under the hunting act (although this is more to do with the poor legislation and lack of police interest that actual laws broken) but when their big days come about they’ll wheel out the same sorry old stories about record crowds etc. These are of course complete hogwash. Even if the CA’s own figures of 250,000 are to be believed (they’re not) then that’s still only a tiny percentage of the population (0.003%). The last thing they need is for the chocolate box image of the traditional winter hunt being shown for what it truly is, a bunch of blood junkies on horses with their associated serfs and hangers on ripping sentient mammals to pieces for fun. Did the CA put the word out to the hunts to just put on a show and go for a ride on their big day? Of course we have no solid information on this but the fact many hunts stayed within the law must suggest there had been some sort of internal memo and while it probably didn’t tell them to not to hunt it probably suggested they take all reasonable steps to not get caught.

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The Fitzwilliam on Bank Holiday Monday

Are the police finally taking action?

Not really. While some forces are taking steps to properly uphold the law others are a complete disgrace. Personally speaking and in terms of the hunting act I’ve reported on Bedfordshire Police’s efforts and Cambs seem to have much more of an understanding as well although it seems they are overloaded just chasing chasing hare coursers for which the wide open spaces of Cambs are ideal. It would also seem that Leicestershire Police who I’ve been highly critical of in the past are now starting to act properly and this may have had something to do with the PCC witnessing first hand what the hunts in the area get up to (see here), but having said that certain forces openly continue to either turn a blind eye to blatant hunting or are even facilitating it by persecuting monitors and sabs, it seems especially bad in Suffolk and Surrey.

Whatever the reasons behind the lack of hunting on these big calendar days, and I suspect it is a combination of all of the above and we should be grateful that no wildlife was abused in these instances. I’ve no doubt once the spotlight is shining elsewhere they’ll go back to their killing ways but right now I’m personally glad I don’t have the images of hounds pulling a terrified animal apart in front of me.