Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs’

. . . the Fitzwilliam case. This will be my last comment on the saga so let’s crack on.

It would appear that there will be no appeal. I’d held off commenting further and releasing the footage to the general public just on the off chance that an appeal would be forthcoming even thought the stated time limit for any appeal had long since past. Just for the point of clarity the law states:

“52.12 – 2(b) where the court makes no such direction, and subject to the specific provision about time limits in rules 52.8 to 52.11 and Practice Direction 52D, 21 days after the date of the decision of the lower court which the appellant wishes to appeal.”

As the case was heard back in April I think I can now safely assume it’s all done and dusted. As I commented before there was plenty of noise coming from Tim Bonner of the so-called Countryside Alliance about appealing but it was very much left in the hands of the Huntsman George Adams who now retried, would gain little from another court appearance except perhaps increasing the chance of a heart attack.

The ramifications of this conviction in the wider hunting community may already be starting to take effect. A post by Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Sabs regarding the Easton Harriers highlighted the fact they were looking into purchasing a bird of prey in an effort to circumnavigate the law and allow them to keep killing our wildlife illegally. However these efforts appear to have been shelved once they realised that this exemption would no longer give them a suitable alibi. One has to wonder how many other hunts which have purchased birds are now reconsidering their options?

At the Trial

As part of my statement and evidence during the trial I submitted a detailed map I created using an aerial photograph and noted places where footage was taken and the approximate path of all concerned. While not 100% accurate (these thing can never be so) it was accepted by the court and used by the judge, the prosecution and the defence as a point of reference for the proceedings. This was actually quite an important aspect and it was never challenged by the defence in any way (see below).

map

Throughout the trial the defence’s main avenue of attack appeared to be based on 3 aspects.

(1) John Mease never had the opportunity to release the bird due to environmental restrictions (the fox was never in the open for sufficient time for a release).

(2) Sabs had turned the fox back into the hounds.

(3) To discredit the main witness (me) regarding the use of a hunting horn.

Defence Failures

(1) Defence barrister Stephen Welford put in a huge effort to clear Mease, something which he achieved however as described in an previous blog post this was due to the technicalities in the law and the control of the hounds and not through any of his own efforts. Under examination it became clear that Mease had claimed in his original statement that the fox had run in the clear for 120 metres and this should have been enough for him to release the bird if he wished to. However he also stated that he would never release the bird on grounds of safety if others were present, this would include members of the public, dog walkers and sabs. Once this was accepted to be the case then they would have to cease any and all actions in the pursuit of the quarry, in this case the fox the hounds would kill a short time later.

(2) This claim seems to be pretty standard tool in the defence’s box of dirty tricks. The problem in this case was once again the video evidence supplied. Even the video supplied by Mease himself undermined their own claims. Welford attempted to suggest on multiple occasions that sabs were responsible for the death of the fox due to their location and intervention. Our interaction was roughly as follows:

SW – “Do you accept that the fox was killed due to your actions?”

AA – “I do not.”

SW – “Do you accept that your presence lead to the hounds killing the fox in the field where you were located and that in fact you turned the fox into the hounds?”

AA – “I do not – further to that the video speaks for itself. Look at the video evidence. At the point where the hounds are killing the fox the only persons present at that location (a different field from my location) are riding horses and wearing red hunting jackets”.

(3) Another underhand attempt at discrediting me as a witness was the claim that I was using a hunting horn. Horns can certainly be heard on the video but it certainly wasn’t I who was using one. Welford asked the question several times;

“Did you have in your possession a horn and use it at any time?”

My answer was clear – “No, I didn’t have a horn on that day”.

Welford then fast forwarded the video to a point after the kill and froze the image. The image showed a horn in my hand. Taken out of context this would appear to show me as being dishonest in the court. This was however, of no concern to me. Even though Welford thought he’d caught me out I knew where he was going with this and was ready with an explanation.

I asked the court to rewind the video to another point and then play again. During the scuffle after the hounds had killed the fox you can clearly see me pick up a horn which had been dropped on the ground. Where this came from I still have no idea, however it proved to the court that prior to the kill I wasn’t in possession of a hunting horn. I have to admit to feeling quite smug over that one. For someone clearly being paid a lot of money Welford had failed completely and the expression on his face said enough.

Watch the video and draw your own conclusions. I have edited the end a little as the main points relative to the case are prior to the death of the fox and the scuffle over the body is largely irrelevant. One final point is the claim that Adams, at no point saw the fox. This seems somewhat unlikely given it ran right past him and he admitted to hunting this area several times in a season and would know where any likely quarry will run.

Please consider helping support our direct action. We run entirely on donations and our own pockets. Ko-fi.com/bedsbuckshuntsabs 

So, we’re only a few weeks into the main hunting season and it’s all kicking off already. We’re getting the usual hunt violence, illegal killing and inconsistent policing, which will be my focus on this blog.

If you’re a follower you’ll already know we’ve been trying to break down the historical differences between the police and those in wildlife protection and, by-and-large we’ve had some success. Bedfordshire police are acting on violence shown by the hired hunt thugs and starting to understand the reality of hunting within the county. While they may not be able to arrest the hunters themselves due to the poorly written legislation they aren’t interfering with our operations to oppose them.

However the same cannot be said for other forces across the country. A couple of weeks ago we sabbed the Puckeridge Hunt, Tim Bonner’s (CEO so called Countryside Alliance) home hunt (full report here) and the police on the day showed a combination of naivety and ignorance. They were naive in that they should never have accepted a ride on the back of a hunt terrier man’s quad bike because it looks very bad for them and puts into question their impartiality (especially when terrier men have no legitimate role in a trail hunt) and ignorant of the laws that were in question on the day. Claiming they have powers to take your details is of course complete nonsense (and we told them so) and asking us to leave private land is also a civil matter, it’s nothing to do with the police.

I explained the situation to them regarding the difference between criminal (illegal hunting) and civil (trespass) and we were exercising our right as citizens to prevent the criminal offence from taking place by trespassing. I don’t believe Hertfordshire Police were acting in bias of the hunt, the officers that attended were just not equipped with the right knowledge to make a reasonable call and unfortunately made bad snap decisions based on preconceived historical prejudice. I’ll be discussing the matter further with Herts rural WCO in due course.

23415161_1459703860793016_8502535736300108528_o

Herts Police being lied to (probably).

If you read though the report from other sab groups around the country some areas have what can only be described as truly biased forces. There’s forces are openly acting as a private security service and facilitating illegal hunting by their very actions. Norfolk Police would appear to be one of those forces. Our colleagues at Norfolk & Suffolk Hunt Sabs are fighting a constant battle not only against the hunters but also the local police force. Last weekend Norfolk Police arrested a sab at a meet of the Dunston Harriers for Aggravated Trespass.

The offence is as follows: A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land [in the open air] and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land [in the open air], does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—

(a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,

(b) of obstructing that activity, or

(c) of disrupting that activity.

23659206_10156064211414835_7276616487458262337_n.jpg

Norfolk Police riding on hunt terrier man’s quad bike.

Considering the sabs had earlier made calls to the police of illegal hunting which were completely ignored (they had already illegally killed a Hare and the hounds were covered in that animals blood) their claims could easily be justified and therefore the above offence cannot be considered by the police officers. In spite of this an arrest was made, the sab removed in handcuffs and spent several hours locked up in a cell.

Norfolk Police have also released the following statement:

Police were called to farmland in Roudham at about 12.20pm yesterday, Saturday 18 November, following reports of a confrontation involving two groups.

Officers attended and while at the scene, were advised of allegations that a hare had been killed. Both parties were spoken to and a search was carried out. No evidence was found. Anyone with evidence is asked to contact police on 101.

We are aware of images on social media of our officers on a quad bike. While recognising the concerns, the officers had been searching in fields and got into difficulty due to the muddy terrain. At this point, they were assisted by the landowner using a quad bike which at no point travelled on a public road or highway. 

This statement just stinks quite frankly. Regardless of whether the officers were on a public road or not it still shows a level of collusion with the hunt in question. It would also be a question as to whether the police would be insured to be riding around on such a vehicle in that manner. Also what evidence did they think they were going to find of a hare which had been pulled apart by a pack of hounds? The Dunston Harriers could have made up any old tale and it seems the police would have believed them. Remember in the case of AT the burden falls on the prosecution to prove that the activity being interfered with was legal, and in this case a claim had already been made to the contrary which was insufficiently investigated. (See similar case explained here)

Please contact Norfolk Police to complain.

Facebook: Norfolk Constabulary

Twitter

Email the chief constable Simon Bailey.

PCC Lorne Green: opccn@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

Another force which appears to be openly biased is Sussex Police. At the opening meet of the Crawley a& Horsham Hunt a saboteur was assaulted by huntsmen using their horses as weapons, a common tactic for hunts. Bearing my this particular hunt have been convicted in the past of illegal hunting its not a massive leap of faith to assume they would continue to do so. In this case the sab was arrested for assault on the hunters and – you’ll like this, criminal damage to the hunters pocket. Take a look at the video.

It’s very clear that the huntsman on the horse was acting aggressively to the sab and the sab was only trying to defend himself. In such instances serious injury and potentially worse can occur if the sab was knocked to the ground and trampled by the horse, he, and those with him had every right to take whatever action was required to keep themselves safe. It speaks volumes that when sabs or monitors make calls to the police very little is done, if anything at all and yet even when the hunters are the perpetrators of the crime the police will act swiftly in coming to their defence. Time for some more complaints.

Facebook: Sussex Police

Twitter

Cheif Constable Giles York Email.

PCC Katey Bourne: pcc@sussex-pcc.gov.uk

This level of inconsistent policing simply cannot be allowed to continue. We all know the Hunting Act needs strengthening but in the mean time we need to have a national policing initiative which will allow an even handed approach to all concerned along with better understanding of the laws in place. Forces showing an obvious bias should come under increased scrutiny and those responsible removed from their positions. Bias from various forces in nothing new and no doubt it will continue but with the overwhelming support of the British public we can get things changed so start emailing, commenting and tweeting, if its something the police don’t like it’s bad PR.

I’ve written many times in the past about police inactivity with regards to hunting with hounds and why I believe, in many cases they are reluctant to effectively police it. However sometimes certain cases stand out way beyond the norm and the bias shown simply cannot be attributed to ignorance, lack of resources or reluctance due to limited chance of prosecution.

dead hare.jpg

A beautiful animal, murdered for fun

The Easton Harriers are a pack which operate in East Suffolk. For those that don’t know Harrier packs will hunt both foxes and hares. They will given the chance, hunt pretty much anything that moves and will offer “sport”. Our colleagues over at Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs have reported over the last few week that they have killed regularly. As you can see from the pictures it’s a gruesome sight and how anyone can take delight in this is simply beyond my comprehension. But hunts killing animals is nothing new, the real problem here is the complete inaction by the local police force.

hare hunter.jpg

The hunt claimed this was a very large rabbit

According to reports police have been present in at least one of the occasions where the illegal killing of a mammal was reported however nothing at all has been done. No statements were taken and no investigation is under way. These aren’t isolated incidents and in an age of social media and the instant proliferation of information there is no reason to believe that the police aren’t be aware of what has transpired and the situation at large. I’m fairly certain that had these crimes been perpetrated by a certain demographic of society, working from say, the back of a van with a few of their mates and using a couple of sight hounds like Lurchers or Greyhounds then the police would have been all over them like a tramp on hot chips. Have a troll through police web sites and their rural commitments especially regarding wildlife crime, poaching or coursing will always get a mention but rarely anything regarding organised hunts.

hounds-dead-hare

The hounds devour what’s left of another hare

It would seem however that the Suffolk police are especially good at turning a blind eye so we have to ask ourselves why this is the case. Is there a connection to the hunt at a senior level within the Suffolk force? Are officers on the ground under orders not to police the hunt and take action regardless of the evidence? Is there an institutionalised prejudice of saboteurs with their ranks? Do they simply not care the hunting act is being openly flouted before their very eyes? More importantly as public servants who should act on our behalf to uphold the law what are we going to do about it and who is to be held to account for this gross injustice?

Please contact Chief Constable Gareth Wilson of Suffolk at Helen.griffin@suffolk.pnn.police.uk (Executive Assistant) and perhaps if you get no joy there try Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s PCC: spcc@suffolk.pnn.police.uk and see if you can get any answers to the questions posed above.

The British public have a voice, let’s make sure it gets heard so we can get these situations changed for the better.