Posts Tagged ‘Northants Hunt Sabs’

Well that was a hectic weekend.

We’ve had quite a few requests from people wanting to get directly involved with saving our wildlife and of course that’s great however as the hunting season comes to an end the hunts get more desperate to kill and tensions increase. It’s certainly no time to introduce someone new to the game where cool heads and experience are required.

17211874_1226243850805686_6752802769037700231_o

The Walk of Shame

As a group we’ve had the polar opposites in terms of operations. First we hit the North Bucks Beagles mid week after a tip off and they packed up the moment they saw us and then at the other end of the scale were the Fitzwilliam who hunted to the last. Even with 4 sab groups combined against them this hunt refused to lose face and jack it in. They hunted several foxes and came very close indeed to killing at least two. We’re fairly certain without our presence the mortality rate would have been high and when you consider this is the same hunt in court next month you begin to understand their arrogance and belief they can do what they like.

A few of interesting points from the day stick in my mind.

First one was the fox which passed close to us followed by the hound about a minute behind. The huntsman (Simon Hunter) shouted at us, “Why didn’t you stop them?” of course we held them up as best we could and indeed believe it gave fox enough time to find cover and escape however these weren’t the words of a man concerned with the welfare of the fox the hounds were ‘accidentally’ after. These were the words of someone covering their own arse. This was indeed his attempt at an alibi should we have the evidence to bring them to court again. The Fitzwilliam use the Bird of Prey Exemption and I’ve written about this before at length (see here) but also by using this exemption they are admitting to hunting a live quarry. Of course to use this loophole the bird of prey has to be in a position to hunt the flushed animal and as usual this is simply never the case. The bird and handler (John Mease – also court next month for hunting act offences and cruelty) are only ever there for show.

1

One of several that we helped get away.

The whole day really was like pre ban hunting. Badger setts were blocked (and unblocked by our colleagues at North and South Cambs Sabs) foxes were hunted to ground and one escaped in a grave yard where the fence bars were narrow enough for the fox but not the hounds. Whenever you see hunt staff dismount you know there’s trouble afoot and get in there as quick as possible. The weasily little turd of a Whipper In hit me with his hunting horn as I pulled out the hounds but I’ve been hit by bigger and tougher people than him and not backed down and they didn’t get the fox which is all that matters.

Later on two riders were using their horses as weapons against a sabs and when we intervened a particularly overweight and ugly rider (we’ll call him Tubbs for a couple of reasons) completely lost his sh*t and violently reacted by whipping a sab in the head. This could have resulted in a very serious injury, it was very close to her eye but luckily she receive nothing more than a sore red lump. Typically Tubbs showed once again what cowards they really are. Once the police arrive on the scene he had vanished, clearly scared to face any repercussions.

Speaking of the police it would seem that the Northants force has some way to go to understand the Hunting Act. When officers finally arrived after multiple calls they were as expected not interested in any hunting offences. I took time to show the officers the very clear footage of the fox being pursued by the hounds and to my amazement they claimed that was not illegal. Now the officers were obviously not used to dealing with hunting related incidents however their excuse for claiming no law had been violated was the fact the fox got away and was not killed. This is of course complete nonsense, a hunt only has to show intend to be guilty and the Fitzwilliam had shown this in spades. The hunt master then declared to the officer that they were going to continue on private land and to detain the sabs present to stop them following. I once again pointed out that you can enter private land to prevent a criminal offence and as we had sufficient evidence to suspect this may take place were would go where we pleased. I also pointed out that trespass is a civil offence. The officers by this time were looking somewhat overwhelmed and stated to all present, “We’re only here for public order”. The master galloped off in huff with sabs in tow.

10

Caption competition time!

The most amusing part of the day was seeing a hunt supporters expensive 4×4 in a ditch with the police looking on. It transpires the driver was so keen to get some pictures on his phone of our colleagues he completely forgot about keeping his car on the road with the predictable results. No doubt a fine and some points will be following shortly.

Finally it’s great to see at least one hunt brought to justice. 3 members  of the Grove and Rufford Hunt (Paul Larby, 58, Peter White, 57, and Jane Wright, 63) were found guilty at Mansfield Magistrates. Of course they claimed the official “it was an accident and we were on a trail” lie but this time it seems to no avail. Interestingly the video evidence of them killing the fox was shot by a bird watcher who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  District Judge Timothy Spruce said: “There is good and compelling evidence that the hunt was aware of the fox, but it appears there is no evidence that hounds were directed away.”

_95144752_fox_hunting_trial

The statement from the judge is quite interesting in that he saw that not calling the hounds off as intent, as opposed to catching the huntsman actively hunting the hounds on. This may have further reaching legal ramifications for future. Peter White was the terrier man and supposed trail layer for the hunt and was convicted purely for this basis proving once again if a hunt has terrier men then there is the intent to hunt a wild mammal. The 3 convicted are considering an appeal, but deep down even they will admit they are guilty with the appeal purely a face saving exercise and perhaps an attempt to get a more sympathetic judge. It’s just a shame the penalties aren’t much stiffer. Maybe some jail time if proved guilty would be more of a deterrent in the future.

 

I didn’t write an update last week, I was fairly busy at work and was also looking to see how certain issues developed before I made a comment.

One incident was the visit to the Atherstone by quite a few sab groups in response to the disgraceful behaviour of their support during a peaceful demonstration at the new years meet (see video below).

It would seem that this sort of thing is par for the course among hunt supporters but it’s certainly not the behaviour you would expect from a rational human being. Clearly Warwickshire police were hugely at fault here for not policing the event even though concerns had been raised well in advance. The incident is now being investigated by the same team who should have been on hand on the day. West Mids Sabs are urging people to complain, details below.

The investigation is being headed by Mitch Oakley whose team cover the Atherstone area. mitch.oakley@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk

Please direct all complaints / questions to the following:

Warwickshire Police
https://www.facebook.com/warwickshirepolice/?fref=ts
email nwe.snt@warwickshire.police.uk

The multi group hit on the Atherston was a huge success. With over 50 sabs arriving at the meet the hunt tried to put a brave face on things and claimed that due to the fog they wouldn’t be hunting that day, which was odd as all the other hunts in the midlands were out in the same weather. I guess we all know the real reason.

Another embarrassment for the Atherstone was the setting up of a funding  page for the hunt who are clearly on their last legs financially if they have to start such enterprises in the first place, and once again the outcome was not what they hoped for. Multiple complaints to Just Giving informing them of a breach of funding rules resulted in the company pulling the page and refunding all the donations that had been made up to that date.

15895678_1012567222221685_6884171913514853537_o

You would think that given the amount of negative publicity the Atherstone would be on their best behaviour however their desire to kill our wildlife is so strong it would seem to override all common sense as once again they killed fox on the drive of a house only yesterday (12/01/16) and my thoughts that go to those who had to witness such a gruesome event. These people really do need to be stopped and it is now time for the police forces in question to step up and take some positive action. Anyone else acting so consistently and blatantly would be dealt with in no uncertain terms regardless of the legislation.

Closer to home the well known hunt steward who assaulted me (Stuart Morris) finally admitted to the offence and accepted a police caution. While I think a caution is hardly likely to make this moron engage his brain before his fists next time (I’ve heard he’s already been bragging how he got away with it) at least the police did their job on the day (see video below). As you know I’ve been in contact with several forces in an effort to get things changed and I hope this will start to bear fruit. Our local hunt (The Oakley) seem to be quite miffed that the police are paying more interest in their activites whether sab groups are present or not. They are clearly rattled and uncomfortable at having the police around and not working their behest. I get the feeling that opinions within the local force are starting to change.

Our friends at Northants Sabs seem to also be making progress with Leicestershire police, a forces which I’ve been highly critical of in the past. Recent reports of their activities against the Belvoir Hunt have been positive where the police are concerned. Lets hope this is a concerted and lasting effort to change and not just a knee jerk reaction to public opinion.

The next logical step is for the police to take action against the violence from the support and stewards who have delusions of social standing within the hunting community. They are nothing more than tools (in more way than one) to be used and thrown away when they have no further use. I know Cambridgeshire police have been contacting the hunts in their areas regarding the employment of these neanderthals (to be honest that does neanderthals a disservice) and I urge all other forces who are graced with their presence to do the same and if they still appear then the use of the Section 35 would clearly by justified.

While the CA and Dim Bonner continue to make noises about the growth of hunting I believe this is nothing more than a desperate attempt to gain support from a dwindling fan base who are in turn becoming increasingly isolated and violent. While graphic images of hunts killing and their supporters acting like yobs continue to be plastered all over social media and the mainstream press there can realistically only be one outcome. While I don’t believe there is paradigm shift just yet I do believe as Winston Churchill once said: “This isn’t the beginning of the end, but it’s certainly the end of the beginning”.

I’ve heard some far fetched excuses in my time but this one has to take the biscuit. It came from Mark Bycroft, huntsman for the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hill hunt. Mark has convictions for assaulting anyone who gets in the way of his blood lust and is a serial fox killer, not exactly the sort of person you’d describe as a reliable witness. His outrageous claims were in response to the horrific video published by North Downs and Guildford Sabs of a fox the hunt had killed south of Chiddingstone last Saturday (3/12). Sabs were unfortunately only moments too late to save the animal but according to Bycroft it was all their fault.

He said; “I understand they found a dead fox in the wood but I wasn’t there at the time so I don’t know what has happened. They use hunting horns and play recordings and try to disrupt the hounds. If an incident has happened they are to blame.”

So lets look at the facts:

A hunt is in the area, the only hunt and Bycroft is the huntsman.

Hounds have killed a fox as they are trained to do.

The hounds belong to the hunt which is in the area.

Sabs are on the scene moments later and witness the kill and record footage.

Hunt staff/terrier men are aware the hounds are hunting a wild mammal.

oldsurreyburstowandwestkentfoxkill1

If Bycroft wasn’t there what the hell was he doing? It’s his job to be in control of the hounds. Blaming sabs for the incident is of course complete and utter nonsense. Their only desire is to save the hunted animal and they did their very best however they’re hardly likely to act in a way which would scupper their primary aims. Now this means that Bycroft is either completely incompetent at his job (which is possible) or he’s purposefully casting the hounds into areas looking for foxes and leaving them to get on with it on purpose so he has the excuse of not knowing anything about what is transpiring.

Except of course he knew all along the hounds were on a fox. Terrier men were observed hollering to indicate they’d seen a fox, the hounds were in full cry (making a loud baying noise) and hunt staff were nearby with full knowledge and made no attempt to call off the hounds.

Rightly this has made the national media and the evidence has been passed on to the police however despite the obvious illegality I doubt there will be any convictions resulting. Lee Moon, spokesperson for the HSA summed up;

“Mark Bycroft has previous convictions for assaulting hunt saboteurs. His hunt have also been filmed illegally chasing and killing foxes but have never been prosecuted for this due to the inadequacies of the police and the Hunting Act. We hope this time it will be different but won’t hold our breath. Whether they get prosecuted or not this video footage speaks for itself. The Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent are a bunch of rural law breakers who think they are above the laws of the land. Well done to the sabs present who, although they weren’t able to save this particular fox have again highlighted the reality of hunting since the ban.”

15250900_1189158381153697_3461544463597436165_o.jpg

This wasn’t the only incident last weekend.

You may remember I reported on several incidents previously regarding the Belvoir Hunt (see here, here and here) and it seems they still regard themselves as untouchable. Three foxes were killed by the hunt in the same day from their meet at The Wolds Farm near Holwell. Also present on the day was the PPC for Leicestershire Lord Willy Bach along with officers from the Leicestershire force. Sabs from Northants Hunt Sabs witnessed a fox being chased and brutally killed in a farmyard near Scalford Hall. Huntsman John Holliday was present and made no attempt to stop or call off the hounds but dismounted his horse and assaulted a female sab as they tried to save the animal. It unfortunately died in the arms of the sabs at the scene.

On reporting this incident to the police they confirmed the Belvoir had already killed 2 further foxes, this time in the grounds of a nearby nursing home which was witnessed by staff and patients alike and reported by a horrified member of the public. The police also had the bodies of the murdered foxes as evidence. Lee Moon from the HSA again;

“2016 has shown the world exactly what the Belvoir hunt are like. They were implicated in keeping captive foxes, then viciously assaulting those who had exposed them. Now as the year draws to a close they brazenly hunt and kill three foxes in the presence of Leicestershire Police. Members of Leicestershire Police, including former wildlife crime officer Sharon Roscoe, are known to ride with the Belvoir and we hope this doesn’t influence any investigation. It is perhaps fortunate that the Leicestershire PCC was also present on the day to insist that this latest law breaking by the Belvoir is not brushed under the carpet.”

These incidents just show the utter contempt hunts have for the law and their arrogance by still claiming what they are doing is legal. No-one with any sense believes their lies any more and the blatant manner in which they pursue their grisly agenda time and again is a true reflection of their desire to kill and remain immune from justice. There has been a review in Scotland recently on their hunting laws and I remain hopeful that progress will be made there. The same process should be followed in England and Wales however the big difference here is we have a pro-hunt Government and an Environment Secretary who wants to repeal the act. Until these hurdles are removed it will be left to those in the field putting themselves on the line to stand up for our wildlife – The Hunt Saboteurs. Find your local group and bung them a few bob.

I’ve just have quite a long and frank discussion with the Chief Inspector for Rural Policing in Bedfordshire north. It would seem they’ve had quite a few complaints regarding the story I published here, so thanks to everyone that took the time to do so. It just goes to prove that the authorities can be spurred into action at the request of the general public.

We spoke about several issues, not just the story I released last week although that of course was the primary reason for his call. With regard to this he gave me his assurances that there was no conflict of interest and although Tracey had in fact ridden with the Oakley in the past she hadn’t done so for many years and that he took the time to look into her activities to the point where he was satisfied she could continue in her post. He also went on to explain the reasons behind her appointment as wildlife liaison officer, citing her love for the outdoors and the wildlife that lives there. Furthermore it was highlighted that she was now training other officers in what to look for with regards to illegal hunting as well as the importance of impartiality and not making snap judgments on who to believe based on their appearance.

Another issue I raised was that of the so called ‘Hunt Stewards’. We all know they are nothing more than thugs and bullies who enjoy violence and the hunts give them a small amount of justification to vent their violent tendencies. He agreed that there is no place for violent behaviour and public safety is their primary concern so we hope that these morons can be caged somewhat and we can go about our business without concern.

trail-quad

I’m fairly certain for them to be laying a trail the rag would have to be on the ground and some distance in front of the hounds.

With regards to policing hunts themselves he reaffirmed the impartiality and the need to recognise what was legal and illegal hunting. My point on that was very clear. The Oakley pay very minor lip service to the law, rarely even laying a trail and if they do it’s usually a half hearted affair of an old rag trailing behind a quad bike, usually some distance behind the hounds. The biggest point I made and one which any officers with a basic understanding of the hunting can grasp is the use of terrier men. Any hunt which employs a terrier man or men, with terriers and spades is hunting illegally. The simple fact is trails don’t go underground or down badger setts. While it may not be illegal for them to be present it is a clear indication of the intent of the hunt and remember, the gamekeepers exemption does not apply if terrier men are attached to a hunt. For that to apply they need no hunt, the written consent of the land owner plus it has to be in defence of livestock, namely game birds as set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Now all of these assurances are all well and good of course but I shall reserve judgment on their actions rather than their words. It will no doubt play out over the coming season and if the attitude of the police improves then I’ll be the first person to be singing their praises. I genuinely hope these are the first steps to a new relationship between the police and hunt monitors/sabs and I’ll keep everyone updated as things pan out.

ADDITIONAL: I purposefully didn’t publish this entry until the events of the weekend had come to their conclusion. The police, for their part were as good as their word. I received regular updates throughout the day and had a direct link to the inspector in the operational control room. She called when there were any developments and also when they themselves required information. The day itself was fairly tough. We had a vehicle rammed which sustained serious damage, we were blocked in by 4 Landrovers filled with thugs all offering to rearrange our features and I was assaulted by one of the thugs, luckily I was wearing an armoured hat so the punch to the back of my head as I was walking away (cheap shot) didn’t knock me out. Had I not been wearing it I have no doubt my bell would have been well and truly rung! He was subsequently arrested and is now on bail pending further inquiries. I was wearing a head cam which was running at the time and the footage has been sent to the police as evidence.

car

Another interesting incident was the police actually witnessing a fox being chased. Sabs were on hand to cover it’s scent but this clear violation of the hunting act gave the police no option but to warn the hunt for hunting illegally. Long may it continue.

In discussion with the police afterwards it would seem many have had their eyes opened somewhat and although they considered it a successful operation I believe there is more work to be done with regards to the safety of those exercising their legal right to monitor hunts. Section 35 dispersal orders have been used in the past on monitors and sabs and I think the justification is there to use it once again except in this case on those who’s only purpose is to intimidate and be violent. It’s exactly what the Section 35 legislation was intended for and at a single stroke would remove the threat of violence and make policing a whole lot easier.