Posts Tagged ‘Oakley Hunt’

So, after my publishing previous post I had some very nice comments on here and social media with encouragement to continue writing and I thank everyone for the kind words. I’ve decided to continue at least for another season and see what happens then. There may not be the weekly updates which I tried to publish previously but if there’s a subject which I feel needs a wider audience or promoting then I’ll put something out.

Moving on from there we are getting ever closer to the vote on Trail Hunting on National Trust land at their AGM on the 21st October. I’ve covered this previously (see here) and the National Dis-Trust are keeping up the pressure and encouraging members to use their vote appropriately. Even though I’ve said this before the importance of this vote cannot be understated and I urge all NT members to vote with their conscience and ban trail hunting on NT land for good. This will of course have serious ramifications for some of the hunts in question, with no land to use some of these hunts will cease to exist. Of course this is great news not just for the hunted wildlife but for the residents of these areas who suffer the bullying and intimidation from the hunts and their supporters.

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In our own neck of the woods we continue to work with our local police in an effort to break down the historical barriers between monitors/sabs and the law enforcement  authorities. Obviously things aren’t going to change overnight but I think we are making progress and hope the situation will continue to improve. We still have our liaison officers but a new inspector has taken on the responsibility for rural operations and I met with him for the first time last night. While new to the post and the hunting act in general I was pleased to see he’d taken some time to inform himself of the situation and had also spoken to at least one Master of our local hunt (the Oakley). It’s always interesting to get an insight from the police’s point of view and would have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall at the meeting he had with Lady Lydia Thompson – pillar of the community, millionaire, choralist, model (I won’t publish the pics, they’ll give you nightmares) and wildlife killer.

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The Angry Egg gets his collar felt.

Despite all their claims to the contrary and much like many other hunts up and down the country the Oakley openly flout the law. We’ve caught them cubbing several times already this autumn and saved foxes when we were there. I believe the new inspector can see that this is taking place and while he also knows that getting a conviction under the hunting act is unlikely he can however restrict the hunts use of thugs to impede our operations. One particularly rotund chap we call the ‘Angry Egg’ was arrested a couple of weeks ago for another assault on a sab. Video evidence was supplied to the police and he was charged with common assault (after spending a very long time in the cells while I was in the pub) and bailed away from any hunting activity until his court case. I believe he is in court this week or at least very shortly regarding an incident last year and has to face a further 3 charges of assault and another of theft of one of our radios during a meet of the Pythley hunt at the very end of last season. Just restricting these morons will be a victory not only for us but also for justice and the decent majority of people who oppose hunting. People like him have been getting away with this kind of unacceptable behaviour for too long and but now the tables are turning. Sooner or later they’ll have to give up the thug act or end up behind bars.

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Lady Lydia Thompson.

Of course Lady Lydia would never admit to employing these low lives and denies all knowledge of them, even though previous master Guy Napier asked them not to attend Oakley meets previously after witnessing first hand their violence. Just like the hounds they are merely means to an end, tools to be used and discarded once their usefulness has run out.

We’ve changed the game and the thugs don’t know how to play by the new rules.

So another hunting season is over.

It’s always good to look back and evaluate what’s gone on and see how you can learn to make ourselves more effective in future operations. We’ve tried a new direction this year and it’s certainly been an interesting experience but whether it turns out to be a success or not still remains to be seen.

Traditionally there has been a lot of suspicion and distrust between activist groups and the police and not without good reason. However we’ve made a concerted effort to break down these barriers and this pretty much started after my conversation with the Chief Inspector after I published this story (see here). It still seems a little odd to me that 6 months down the line we’ve had no contact with the officer that was the subject of that story in her position of Wildlife Crime Officer. Whether she still holds that position or not I don’t know but I can only assume she does. From then on we did however have a reasonable flow of information coming from the police. We were assigned a liaison officer with whom I met and discussed the way forward and we have continued to keep a regular dialogue. For their part the police seemed to be improving and took illegal hunting more seriously as well as the threat to our safety from the moronic half wits who act as the hunts personal security force. With our help the police were able to identify that the hunt was clearly hunting illegally and while not able to prosecute they didn’t impede us while we operated.

The problems arose with consistency of officers and the nature of the way our operations work.

As a group we have our own intelligence network and rely on informants within the hunting community passing on meet information or simply local people who have had enough of hunt riding roughshod over them. I’m fairly sure the police will understand this and we would inform our liaison as soon as we knew we would be operating in the county. This would often be the day of the hunt however apparently this doesn’t give the police time to act in any meaningful manner. This proved to be the case on the 4th of March when we were assaulted and had cameras stolen in a private woodland behind the Oakley Hunt kennels. The perpetrators claims we were trespassing and had the right to remove us from the land when the truth of the matter was the complete opposite. One particularly obnoxious couple even took their toddler to the confrontation, something any normal parent would clearly wish to avoid. We’ve been in regular contact with the owners of the wood and needless to say they are not happy with what occurred and have made repeated complaints against the hunt and to the police.

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Police vehicle parked in the Oakley Hunt kennels

The fact the hunt denied all knowledge of the people involved speaks volumes about the obvious lies they are prepared to tell to cover their own arses. The vehicles owned by the people responsible were parked in the hunt kennels! The response of the police on the day was appalling to say the least. The officers were utterly uninterested in hearing our complaints and sided instantly with those who had committed the crime even though they didn’t know the full story. We will be having a meeting next month with the Inspector in charge of that part of policing for the county and shall make our feelings known. Slightly concerning was the lack of information being passed between the officers themselves. I spoke to our liaison some time after the incident expecting her to be aware of it and yet it was all news to her. Surely if an incident took place involving us the first person to be informed would be our liaison officer? Clearly there is work to be done here and as it stands we’ve withdrawn all contact until our meeting but for the time being we’ll continue down this path for as long as it takes to get these one sided attitudes changed.

Of course not all forces as the same. We’ve had a fair amount of contact with Cambridgeshire rural units and they’ve done pretty well by bringing the Fitzwilliam Hunt to court (26th/27th April), and at the very least being impartial and investigating illegal hunting when required. Leicestershire have been awful in the past but now have a number of officers trained in matters relating to hunting (Well done to Northants Hunt Sabs who had a big hand in this) but Northants Police still have a way to go although having said that it was nice to know that some of the main protagonists among the thugs have recently been arrested by the Northants force, some for the second time and after searches of their houses alleged stolen property seized. We have submitted plenty of video evidence against them so fingers crossed that justice will be served. I do know that forces further afield still turn a complete blind eye to illegal hunting and still actively persecute the sabs and monitors in the fields attempting to stop these crimes, perhaps this is due to the story I published here or senior officers are hunters themselves?

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One of the many we saved, this time from the Fitzwilliam.

From a sabbing point of view the season has been a bit up and down although we can comfortably say we’ve made a big difference. Like everything in life we have good and bad days but even on the bad days we’ve saved lives and that’s what really counts. Our attentions have reduced the Oakley to a pathetic shambles, more often that not with only a handful of riders and a huntsman who can’t control the hounds. We’ll be surprised if huntsman Calamity Jack still has a job next year. What’s also been clear is their lack of hunt country. Land owners have clearly been pulling out from giving them permission to hunt on their land, there can be no other reason for the hunt to be so restricted and using the same areas several times a season and now that there are hunt hounds implicated in the spread of bTB things are only going to get worse for them.

We’ve had some good PR in the press both local and national and this of course has lead to more public support and people inquiring about getting involved. We’ll be running a training day over the summer for these potential new sabs, we’ll be fund raising and doing some outreach with a stall in a local Lush this May and a vegan fair later in the summer.

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One of our own escorting the shambolic Oakley.

I think the biggest thing we have learnt is more about ourselves. No matter what abuse we face, be it physical or verbal we only come back stronger, no matter how difficult it may be to work with the authorities it only makes us more determined. The general public are overwhelmingly on our side and that’s a powerful weapon to wield in conjunction with an unshakeable spirit to stand up and do the right thing. The Countryside Alliance may bang on every year about record crowds at hunts but the facts are somewhat different. There can be only one final outcome, it’s just a matter of time.

Well it’s been a crazy couple of weeks and time has been at a premium hence the lack of updates. Once again I’ve spent a fair bit of time dealing with the press although this time more local than national but it’s all good coverage and on top of that making statements to the police and handing over video evidence. It gives the neighbours something to gossip about though so it’s all good.

I’ll be off again shortly, I took the day off work today as we had a tip off that some illegal beagling was going to take place so I’m sitting here writing this before heading out and seeing if we can catch them in the act. There are hundreds of these majestic animals in the fields close to me at the moment as they gather for the breeding season however nationally they are in serious decline and some parts of the country seem to be devoid of them completely so how anyone can derive any joy from hunting and killing these animals is quite frankly beyond me. We’ve tipped off the relevant police force as well so hopefully we’ll get a good result. UPDATE: See here

If you’ve been keeping up with our exploits on Facebook you’ll no doubt have read our latest report (see here). It was obviously disappointing that the police performance on the day was so poor considering the progress they have been making in recent weeks. I have swapped emails with the Inspector now in charge and we’ll meet to discuss things further face to face shortly. I know the police, and Bedfordshire especially face huge funding issues and need to prepare for these kinds of incidents however they can’t expect us to give them notice of when we’ll be operating in their areas. Our intelligence comes from a network of informers, some even within the hunting community and also from the general public who hate hunting so much and as such this information can come in at the very last minute. As soon as we have this information we let the police know however this will often be on the morning of the hunt.

We’re told that the Oakley also have a police liaison, however the flow on information from them doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from what I understand. If the hunt are refusing to give the police details of their meets then the police can’t expect us to give them a weeks notice to plan things either. It’s best to assume that if the hunt are out, we’ll be out.

It was also highly amusing to note the lies the hunts will tell even though there is irrefutable evidence that will completely debunk all their claims (see here). I’m not sure who they think will believe their nonsense but it’s safe to say you’d have to be seriously mentally challenged to take their word for it. Hey, maybe that’s it, they are just fooling their own side? Regardless of the outcome from last weekend the Oakley have only added more paint to the canvas which portrays them for what they really are; a sad and desperate little hunt with a huntsman who has no control and Masters who rarely seem to turn up that rely on hired thugs and half wits to try and stop people like me from outing their dirty little secrets and telling the truth.

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The rumour going around that the Kimblewick hunt hounds had contracted TB has been confirmed as official. This will of course have huge ramification with regards to bio-security and another reason why hunts should’nt be allowed to operate in areas where bTB is a problem. Obviously its a tragedy for the hounds involved that were killed and they, like many other animals connected to hunting are just considered tools to be used and thrown away when no longer of value and not a sentient mammal. It’ll be a story I’ll follow closely and well done to our friends at Hounds Off for breaking the news (see here).

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I’m going to sign off this entry with a dedication to a dear friend who was taken from us far too early. At the start of the badger cull when this activist was an accident yet to happen I was contacted by a clubbing friend who lived in the area and wanted to get involved. These were her first steps into AR and something that was to change her life for ever. Over night she became a wildlife warrior and from protecting badgers she went on to join the local sab group and face up to the worse the local fox hunts could throw at her and her little red van. Her parties were the stuff of legend (if you could remember them afterwards) and was the type of person to get on a plane to come and see a friend if she thought something was wrong.  She gave everything and yet asked for nothing. She will be sorely missed by everyone and my deepest sympathies go out to her husband Alec and her children.

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Tracey – for once not covered in mud.

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.