Tag Archive | animal cruelty

Police investigate ‘attack’ on local hunt kennels

Reposted from The Hereford Heckler

The Ross Harriers hunt are in the media yet again this week with an article published claiming that the police are investigating an attack on their kennels, including the dumping of a dead dog on the huntsman’s driveway.

Police were called to the address in Coughton, near Ross-On-Wye last Tuesday, 19th March, to reports of criminal damage to a 4×4 belonging to the huntsman, David Lee Peters, and the death of his dog.  In the article an ‘anonymous source close to the hunt’ suggests that the attack and murder of the dog was the work of animal rights activists. The initials ‘ALF’ (standing for Animal Liberation Front) were apparently scratched onto the vehicle and the source claimed that the dog was ‘beaten to death.’

Questions raised

Questions are already being raised about the validity of the claims, especially regarding the involvement of animal rights activists.

Firstly and most obviously, what motivation would activists associated with the animal rights movement have for harming a dog, let alone ‘beating it to death’ and leaving it on the huntsmans driveway? The pro-hunting community often slander animal activists as ‘people haters’ but whatever point the activists could have wanted to make, either about hunting or about Peters himself, would vegetarian and vegan protesters who commit themselves to ending all animal exploitation (often at the risk of injury or arrest) have done something so counterintuitive and  opposed to their beliefs to make this comment? Given the obvious public backlash that would follow and the condemnation and even stronger backlash from the rest of the animal rights movement, we think not!

The ‘hunt source’ in the article heavily suggests that the ALF was responsible for the attack and attempts to explain who and what the ALF is. The Animal Liberation Front is a loose collection, or more accurately concept, often attributed to those who carry out non-violent direct action in defence of animals. Over its 40 year history the ALF has rescued (or ‘liberated’) hundreds of thousands of animals from places of cruelty and exploitation (including factory farms and animal experiment labs). It has also caused £millions of financial loss to those who profit from the exploitation of animals.

In the ALF aims and guidelines, which have to be clearly adherred to for the name to be used in a direct action, it is imperatively stated that activists should:

  • Take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human.

If this does not happen, then it quite simply is not an action of the ALF.

Vicious dog murderers or victims of slander campaign? Hunt saboteurs play with foxhounds rarely shown affection at the weekend.

Vicious dog murderers or victims of a slander campaign? Hunt saboteurs play with foxhounds who are rarely shown affection, at the weekend.

Hunt saboteurs are also mentioned in the article, as they are often active in the region close to the kennels and have previously attended meets of the Ross Harriers Hunt. Again there is the suggestion that they may have be involved in the attack, or that they and the ALF are one-and-the-same.

Hunt saboteurs also use non-violent direct action to save hunted animals. They put themselves between the hunted animal and the hunters, using scent-dulling sprays and hunting horns to mimik the huntsman and call hounds away from the hunted animal.

In the 50 years that hunt saboteurs have been active, there have been all sorts of accusations made against them by the hunting fraternity; spraying hounds with battery acid, using trip-wires to trip up horses, even bringing pre-caught foxes along and releasing them in front of hounds to prove that hunts are illegally hunting – none of which have ever been proven.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association introduction literature clearly states that saboteurs should never harm or put animals at risk, whether they are the hunted animal or animals used by the hunt. This is seen as somewhat of a golden rule by hunt saboteurs and monitors. The press officer of the Hunt Saboteurs Association commented on the incident saying:

“We simply do not engage in or condone criminal damage or any attacks on animals,”

“We engage in legal disruption of illegal hunting and we had nothing to do with this whatsoever.

“It doesn’t sound like the sort of thing the ALF would do either, killing a dog. They have been known to steal an entire pack of hounds, but they wouldn’t harm one.”

In short the murder of this innocent animal (if that is indeed what happened) is obviously a heinous crime, something that animal rights activists and hunt saboteurs would also be extremely opposed to, whoever it belonged to.

https://i1.wp.com/hsa.enviroweb.org/images/stories/hsa/bad/RossHarriersAttack.jpg

Attack on saboteurs by members of the Ross Harriers hunt last year.

The Ross Harriers – not so squeaky clean

It seems that the media (including, unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail) are swallowing up yet another animal rights scare story, without looking any deeper and only giving a glancing reference to the recent history of this particular hunt.

The Heckler has reported on the Ross Harriers a number of times in the recent past. In October a supporter of the Harriers was also found guilty of assaulting a saboteur and around this time last year members of the hunt attacked the vehicle of anti-hunt protesters and some of its occupants with an iron bar. Hardly the track record of law-abiding, non-violent and decent human beings and certainly far from the image of ‘victims’ that they appear to have gained with some.

A ‘false flag’ attack?

So with it looking extremely unlikely that the people who carried out the murder of this dog were associated with hunt saboteurs or the animal rights movement and the previous bad behaviour of the hunt examined, who could have been responsible? A number of possible (and in our opinion much more likely) explanations for the attack and who carried it out have been raised online:

  • It could be part of a smear campaign by the hunting community to slander hunt saboteurs and animal rights activists. Lee Peters is appealing his conviction of racially abusing a saboteur last year, and the retrial will be heard at Worcester Crown Court in the Summer. The media attention and police investigation would serve as a well timed attempt to gain public support for Peters and to discredit and put pressure on the activists who oppose him and who will presumably play a part in the case against him.
  • It could have been committed by somebody with a personal gripe against Peters, or another rival, local hunt. There are often bitter rivalries over hunting territory, support and finances. The pro-hunting community have also been known to dump dead foxes at the houses of hunt opponents, have killed and injured pet animals (such as dogs) and have vandalised vehicles and houses. This sounds awfully similar to the type of attack described in the article, and the ‘antis’ would make for perfect cover for such an attack.
  • It could have been proponents of the upcoming badger cull, which will take place in the area. The badger cull is conveniently mentioned in the article and by the hunt’s ‘anonymous source,’ without anything else suggesting that this alleged ‘ALF action’ had anything to do with the cull. By making it look like ‘animal rights extremists’ are operating in the area, the police would be forced to take more of an active interest in pursuing the animal rights activists who would oppose the cull.
  • The ‘ALF’ attack on the vehicle could have been an action genuinely committed by animal rights activists, with the dog being dumped (or planted) by others afterwards – the dog either dying of natural causes and being made to look like it was killed, or being killed in a more sinister manner. Again this could serve to discredit the action and the activists, by giving a scapegoat for the death and turning the media attention to what the hunting community would portray as ‘hypocritical hunt opponents.’

It is not unheard of for such ‘false flag’ attacks to happen, after all. Back in 1990 an unheard of group called the ‘British Animal Rights Society’ claimed responsibility for having attached a nail bomb to a huntsman’s Land Rover in Somerset. Forensic evidence led police to arrest the owner of the vehicle, who admitted he had bombed his own car to discredit the animal rights movement. He was jailed for nine months.

Whoever the perpertrator of the alledged attack on the Ross Harriers kennels was, we think there is more to this story than meets the eye…

This repost has been edited. Link to original article here

David Cameron’s local hunt convicted after RSPCA prosecution (Guardian 17.12.12)

Prime minister has ridden with Heythrop Hunt, which admitted intentionally hunting a fox with dogs

Heythrop Hunt

Members of the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds. Photograph: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Members of the David Cameron‘s local Oxfordshire hunt have been convicted of hunting foxes illegally in a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

Richard Sumner, 68, and Julian Barnfield, 49, of the 176-year-old Heythrop Hunt with which Cameron has previously ridden, each pleaded guilty at Oxford magistrates court to four charges of unlawfully hunting a wild fox with dogs. The hunt, Heythrop Hunt Limited, also pleaded guilty to the same four charges of intentionally hunting a fox with dogs on land in the Cotswolds.

Outside court, Barnfield, a former huntsman with the Heythrop, claimed the prosecution had been politically motivated because of its links with Cameron’s Witney constituency. He said he believed the animal charity was trying to put pressure on Cameron “not to give a free vote” in parliament in any future debate on the Hunting Act, and to embarrass the prime minister.

Members of the so-called Chipping Norton set – an influential group of MPs and media professionals who live in the area – who have links to the Heythrop include the prominent supporter and racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, husband of the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. Their neighbour Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear presenter, has reportedly allowed the hunt to use his land and is among locals photographed at the Heythrop’s country fair. The prime minister is understood to have ridden with the hunt on six occasions before the legislation came into force.

The prosecution followed footage taken by anti-hunt monitors over four days during the 2011-12 season.

The court heard hounds had been encouraged to chase foxes, which is banned under legislation which came into force in 2005.

Barnfield and Sumner, a former hunt master, have since retired from their positions.

Jeremy Carter-Manning QC, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the hunt was filmed on several occasions in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire during November last year and in February and March this year by members of the Protect Our Wild Animals group. Footage was passed to the RSPCA. It is believed to be the first prosecution of a hunt itself under the legislation, which abolished the hunting of foxes with hounds in almost all circumstances and, in particular, traditional fox hunting.

Footage shown to the court of an incident on 29 February showed evidence of “prolonged and deliberate unlawful hunting”, said Carter-Manning.

After a fox ran past hunt monitors, who were recording footage from a road nearby, Barnfield drew up on horseback. “Two route-followers indicated to Mr Barnfield the direction in which the fox had run. He immediately blows the hunting horn and enters the field as directed,” said Carter-Manning. Barnfield and another man then gave vocal encouragement to the remainder of the pack, shouting “tally ho” and “forrard”.

In a subsequent piece of film, recorded 40 minutes later, monitors are heard shouting: ‘There’s a kill, there’s a kill,” and: “Call the police.”

Describing the events, Carter-Manning said: “The hounds converge into semi-circles and the screaming [of the hounds] reaches a crescendo. The hounds are making a kill.”

On another occasion, in March, footage shot by a volunteer shows hounds beginning to squeal as they try to flush out a fox from dense cover, “and then almost immediately afterwards a double horn”.

Further footage captures the hounds pursuing a fox and cries of “on, on, on” from the mounted hunt. Barnfield was “filmed quite clearly amongst the pursuing hounds shouting ‘on, on, on’ in obvious encouragement”, said Carter-Manning.

Philip Mott QC, mitigating, said the charges related to four occasions within the full hunting season between November 2011 and March this year. During that period there would have been around 100 hunts, each lasting some five hours. “What you have here is unlawful hunting, shown and admitted, of no more than 15 minutes in total,” he said.

“It is our case that the rest of the time this hunt was operating trail hunting.”

Barnfield, of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was fined £250 for each charge, totalling £1,000, and ordered to pay costs of £2,000. Sumner, of Salperton, Gloucestershire, was fined a total of £1,800 with costs of £2,500. The Heythrop Hunt Limited was fined a total of £4000 with £15,000 costs. All three were ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

Following the hearing, the RSPCA’s chief executive, Gavin Grant, said: “These defendants were well aware that they were breaking the law in that their actions would lead to a fox being torn apart by dogs.

“No doubt the hunt will say that those involved have now left and they have no knowledge of this crime,” he added. “The truth is this hunt believed that they were above the law – they were wrong.”

The anti-hunt monitors who shot the footage thanked the RSPCA for having the “foresight and courage to take on the prosecution”.

Outside court, Barnfield said he had only pleaded guilty because he could not afford to fight the £327,000 case the RSPCA had mounted.

“We conceded because the money wasn’t there to defend ourselves. I would like to stand there and defend it but there was no way it was possible.

“I am staggered by it all. The fact that a charitable body can take on this political thing and spend so much money which other people have given them for another thing is stunning.”

Attributing political motivation to the animal charity, he added: “They could have picked on any other hunt but they picked on Heythrop because we are in David Cameron’s constituency.

“I think they are trying to put pressure on him not to give a free vote like he said he would, to embarrass him in some way.”

Since 1835 the Heythrop Hunt, one of the most high-profile in the country, has been an intrinsic part of the Chipping Norton community. Huge Boxing Day crowds gather to see it in Chipping Norton Square as one of the market town’s Christmas traditions. In 2003, Cameron, recalled a day out with the Heythrop, saying: “Nothing had prepared me for the sheer terror of a day’s hunting. I battled in vain to control my powerful steed and careered through trees and bushes – completely out of control.”

Original article

Video “Fox killed by Cameron’s hunt” (Guardian link)

Ledbury Hunt filmed killing fox

Taken from the Hereford Heckler November 29th

It seems that not a weekend goes by without a hunt getting negative press or showing their truly outrageous colours.

A couple of weeks ago we reported on the case of Lee Peters, the huntsman of the Ross Harriers Hunt, who was found guilty of racially abusing a hunt saboteur. Last week the Hereford Times also reported on he case, yesterday putting their story online.

Last weekend a video appeared on Youtube, showing hunt monitors literally saving a fox from the jaws of hounds.

Now this week, a graphic video has been released showing the hounds of the Ledbury Hunt killing a fox on Friday 13rd November.”

A Hunt Saboteurs Association press release on the horrendous incident said:

“Graphic footage of the Ledbury Hunt killing a fox has today been released. The incident happened on the 23rd November 2012 in a private garden in Eldersfield, Gloucestershire and was captured on film by members of Three Counties and Coventry Hunt saboteurs.

They were sadly too late to rescue the fox, but one did obtain film of the hounds repeatedly savaging the animal for a protracted period, whilst she and a colleague attempted to get the dogs off it. It is unclear at what point the fox succumbed to its multiple wounds, but when they were able to retrieve the animal from the pack it had been effectively disembowelled.

Footage of the kill, and from beforehand, is being examined by lawyers from the RSPCA to determine if there are grounds for prosecution under the Hunting Act. Results of a post-mortem are being withheld pending a decision.”

To take action against fox hunting, visit:

Hunt Saboteurs Association