Posts Tagged ‘Tim Bonner’

Since the publication of the hunting webinars and all the current repercussions now being felt by the hunting world it might be easy to sit back and assume the war is over and all that remains is to mop up the last remaining vestiges of resistance. However, the reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it is undeniably true that hunting with hounds has been fundamentally damaged this is no time to rest on our laurels. The so-called Countryside Alliance are finally starting to find their voice in their defence of hunting but their attempts at damage limitation appear to be pretty poor due to the fact they are wholly based on the assertion that trail hunting is a legal activity. If carried out as it should then their claims could be considered credible however the webinars prove this is not the case and it doesn’t matter how much noise they make about it this is never going to change.

 

What was more laughable was the production of a video which was designed to show how trail hunting worked. With shots from both hand held and drone cameras along with titles to offer an explanation it did nothing more than prove what utter nonsense it all was. The production was cheesy to say the least and was so contrived it could have been a parody. The other problem was the hunt they chose to focus on, none other than the criminally convicted Kimblewick! It may have been better for the CA to choose a hunt that hadn’t been convicted of dragging a fox from its earth and throwing it on front of the hounds and also shooting most of their pack a few years ago as they all had bTB. It was obviously not shot at an actual hunt either as there were no field riders (except for a single female escorting a child – have to get a child in there) or their own soft underbelly, the terrier men. It was also amusing that they shot this piece at the same location that we sabbed them blatantly cubbing only last September. Of course I couldn’t help but bash out a quick a more realistic version . . .

Some other news was last night’s vote by Peterborough City Council to ban all hunting on their land. The motion brought by Councillor Ansar Ali said:

“Most registered hunts claim to now be ‘trail’ hunting, an activity invented after the ban which allows hunts to claim that any chase of a wild mammal is an accident rather than intentional. This Council resolves that it will not permit trail hunting, exempt hunting, hound exercise and hunt meets on its land.”

He told ITV News: “There should be no place for [hunting] in the 21st century. There is growing resentment from the general public for this outdated and cruel sport.”

While the amount of land that this will effect is only minimal it sends a clear message of public opinion and obviously that got up Bonner’s snout. He winged about setting a “dangerous precedent” and continued with their time honored claims of “cheap political stunts” and “class war”.

Hunt Sabs spokesperson Lee Moon summed up the vote:

“The trail hunting smokescreen has well and truly been blown away and the British public are finally seeing the truth about “trail” hunting.  The hunting community have been engaged in a nationwide conspiracy to commit illegal acts for the past 15 years and people are sick of it.  We expect many more Councils to follow suit as more and more landowners protect themselves from being dragged into criminal acts.”

Out in the fields the hunts will be making their own decisions. Many, in keeping with their inflated sense of entitlement and arrogance will continue to hunt live quarry regardless while others seem confused and unwilling to risk being caught out. This will no doubt be a reflection on their relationship with the local law enforcement authorities and the levels of corruption therein. Needless to say all senior officers won’t be able to plead ignorance of the criminality going on in the countryside as copies of the webinar have been sent out to every force in the country by the HSA.

While the criminal investigation takes place into the webinar we need to maintain the pressure and keep our opponents on the back foot. Keep lobbying local land owners and supporting your local sab groups. Covid-19 has seen the cancellation of most of the usual festive hunt meets which is a small bonus to the situation and likely to cause a significant loss of revenue, however hunts will still be meeting, largely in secret and desperate to avoid the presence of sabs, monitors and the general public so if you encounter a hunt or see suspicious activity you believe to be hunt related remember to call the HSA Tip Off Hotline (07443148426) as soon as you can with the details. It could save lives.

Simon Hart MP is (in my opinion) a particularly odious character and was the Chairman of the Countryside Alliance prior to his appointment as Minister of Implementation within Boris’s self serving (and hopefully temporary) Government. This clearly left the CA with a position to fill and we now know who that will be.

Nick Herbert MP is a former Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (May 2010 -Sept 2012) and was also the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He’s currently the MP for Arundel and South Downs in West Sussex. As you would expect from a Tory he’s Cambridge educated where he read law and land economy but more importantly we was the director of public affairs for the British Field Sports Society (the forerunner of the the Countryside Alliance), a post he held for 6 years.

Nick_Herbert_-_minister_for_policing_and_criminal_justice

So are are we to make of this appointment?

Obviously his past demonstrates he is deeply entrenched within the hunting and shooting set and his time as director of public affairs at the BFSS would suggest he should know what he’s doing with regards to PR however the current CEO of the CA, Tim Bonner is a complete loon who constantly scores own goals with his irrelevant and nonsensical ramblings on social media. One wonders if Nick will be able to put a leash on him?

A little bit of digging would show Nick to be the previous Master and Huntsman of the Newmarket Beagles and also the Trinity Foot Beagles, a pack I have been involved in preventing hunting several times. For those that don’t know beagling is the hunting of Brown Hares with beagles. The hunt staff still dress up in stupid costumes but they hunt on foot. A hare will always be able to outrun a beagle (even though hunting beagles are very fast) however they don’t have the stamina of the hounds and as they are reluctant to leave their territory will also tend to run in large circles. In the end they will run out of puff and be pulled apart by the hounds. Beagle packs can kill many hares in an afternoons hunting (more info here).

How anyone can take any pleasure in watching this majestic animal being tormented and killed in such a manner is beyond most normal peoples comprehension but Nick himself describes this as some sort of addiction.

So it should come as no surprise then that Nick loves a bit of animal abuse and during David Cameron‘s time as Prime Minister he held the post of Minister for Police and Criminal Justice, which made him responsible for the policing of the Hunting Act. No doubt one of the many reasons why there was so little action from the police when a staunch hunting advocate was dictating Government policy on the situation.

In a statement about his appointment to the CA Nick states:

“The Countryside Alliance is one of the UK’s biggest campaigning groups, and its mission to stand up for the countryside and the rural way of life has never been more important.  I am passionate about these issues, and I’m honoured to be taking up this role at such a critical time for the countryside.  Having been involved in creating the movement some years ago it feels like I’m coming home.”

It’s pretty standard stuff but he’s right about the time being critical, not just for the countryside but for hunting itself. Beagling especially is a dying blood sport, those taking part are all facing their dotage and packs are going to the wall (see here). In a time where the biodiversity of our country is at an all time low and the pressures on our wildlife are increasing all the time it’s pretty sad that an organisation like the CA even exists, and while they may claim to represent the countryside as a whole we should never lose sight of the fact that their primary objective has always and will always, be the promotion of hunting and the repeal of the Hunting Act.

 

If you’ve been keeping up with events on social media you may have noticed Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs caught the Kimblewick Hunt in the act of cubbing very early on Bank Holiday Monday morning near the village of Adwell in Oxfordshire. You can view the full report here. Someone very actively involved in this illegal activity was a certain Matthew Higgs. I received the following about old Higgsy via email so thought I’d publish so we all know what this guy is all about. I also know Higgsy likes to read this blog as well and while he thinks I’m not such a martyr to my cause he lacks any courage in his own conviction and like many cowards, flatly refuses to acknowledge what he does is illegal and hides behind puerile technicalities. Anyway, enough of that, here’s the article . . .

With two of their members in court in October you might think that the Kimblewick Hunt would be on best behaviour (see here). Not a bit of it. When sabs caught them last on Monday morning they were in perfect cub hunting formation. To the fore was Kimblewick Hunt Committee member Matthew Higgs, smartly attired in his Agrii gilet. (Should he really be wearing workwear at an event like this?). Matthew’s first love, though, is hare hunting.

1

Higgs, out cub hunting with the Kimblewick on 26/08/19

Trinity Foot and South Herts Beagles

Higgs became huntsman of the South Herts Beagles in 1986 and master a few years later. When his hunt merged with the neighbouring Trinity Foot in 2003, Higgs assumed control of the new pack and has been main man ever since. The Trinity Foot had close links with Cambridge University so there’s usually a gullible student or two on the mastership. Higgs is a respected hound judge and, in his late fifties, an energetic youngster on the decrepit beagling scene.

The Pack 

The TFSH Beagles meet at 12:30 on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Their pre-season hunting begins mid-September (hence Higgy’s availability on Monday) and usually includes a trip to Northumberland. On their home turf they have several meets around Ivinghoe Beacon and at farms in Ramsey, Silscoe, Cottenham and elsewhere.

Higgs and the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles 

In 2017 Higgs became Chairman of the AMHB – a tiny, extremist group of a couple of hundred people who obsessively campaign for the right to set dogs on hares. The AMHB also try – very unsuccessfully – to encourage children into beagling through their “Young Hare Hunters Days” which have previously been disrupted by hunt sabs. The big question is whether Matthew will replace current Director Lizzie Pinney, who is retiring to spend more time with her hunt cushions.

1

Higgs struggles with his phone again – TFSHB 09/02/19

Friends in High Places 

As with all hunting groups, the AMHB board is small but influential. Their list of Vice Presidents includes such luminaries as Tory MP Nicholas Soames, CA President Baroness Mallilieu and Tory peer Lord Annaly (stop sniggering at the back).

Higgs and Hunt Sabs 

As the de facto leader of beagling in the UK, it would be bad form for Higgs to just pack up when sabs attend. Instead, he tends to flash his spray of American jackrabbit scent and embark on a ludicrous and poorly-rehearsed display of “trail hunting”. This involves his wife, Kate, dragging a scented sock around while the hounds chase hares elsewhere.

1

After being caught by sabs Kate pretends to lay a trail 09/02/19

Limited Intelligence 

At the Kimblewick on Monday, Higgs was boasting about how much he knows about one of the sabs. This is typical behaviour. Higgs is the AMHB representative on the Council of Hunting Associations who support Tim Bonner’s embarrassing campaign to “expose” hunt sabs. Because of this role, he is one of the few beaglers who attempts to gather intelligence and keeps a folder of sab mugshots in his hound vehicle. He tries to engage sabs in conversation to find out where they are from and is obsessive about getting photos of sabs who don’t mask up.

Managing Decline

Sitting at the top of the AMHB and on the committee of the Kimblewick, Matthew is perfectly positioned to observe the decline of hunting. Several beagle packs fold every season because no one supports them, and the Kimblewick (an unhappy merging of several fox hunts) faces a high-profile trial in the same week as their Opening Meet.

Oh, Matthew, where did it all go wrong ?

1

Can you see a pattern emerging? This time with the Old Berkeley Beagles 02/01/19

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.