Friday the 13th has for centuries been regarded by the superstitious as a day of bad luck. This, of course, depends upon your opinion. Friday 13th November 2020 will be remembered by many as the good day. It is the day that Trail Hunting was fatally injured by one of its own, Lord Benjamin Mancroft, Chairman of the Master of the Foxhounds Association, and former Chair of the Countryside Alliance, supported by a cast of MFHA Directors and staff including: Mark Hankinson, Hunting Office Executive Director, and former Master of the Wilton Hunt, Richard Tyacke, Hunting Office Director and former Master of the Wynnstay Hunt, and two former Police Officers, Philip Davies, the MFHA’s legal advisor and, Paul Jelley, a former Devon and Somerset Police Officer.
The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) released video’s of Zoom calls recorded during August 2020 of key MFHA Directors and staff, openly discussing how to ‘fool the Police’ and the Courts of this land to believe the hunts were carrying on ‘legitimate business’ of Trail hunting and not ‘hunting a quarry’
For context, Trail Hunting did not exist before the Hunting Act. It was introduced in February 2005, when the Hunting Act came into force, with its clear assertion that it was illegal to hunt wild mammals with packs of hounds.
The MFHA believed it could simply adopt the name and tradition of Drag Hunting, but the Masters of the Drag Hunting Association wanted nothing to do with the ‘blood sport’ packs and refused to join forces or share the name.
It was then Trail Hunting was invented. Trail Hunting, is a thinly veneered ‘smokescreen’ – a bastardisation of the traditional sport of Drag Hunting, where a pack of hounds followed a pre-laid scent trail and blood hunting where the pray is live wild animals. Trailhunters purported to lay a trail for the hounds to follow, and then claimed ‘accident’ whenever they were caught out killing a fox.
The MFHA Zoom seminars were specifically designed to advise ‘blood hunts’ of the methodology needed to escape prosecution, if they were caught illegally hunting by Hunt Saboteurs. The Zoom based seminars specifically addressed the importance of video recording the laying of trails and explained what information the Police would be asking for. They even included a testimony of one hunt who escaped prosecution after Hunt Sabs videoed the hounds killing a fox – but were able to show pre-recorded video footage of the the Hunt laying a trail so the Police could not have reasonable doubt that the fox was killed intentionally.
You can watch the full length videos below of the MFHA Zoom Seminars via the links below.
Link to Video 2
Of course, these video’s caused a storm on social media platforms with millions of people calling for those involved to be prosecuted and an end to hunting forever. The lack of response, or denial of any allegations, were not forthcoming from the Hunters. A cleear sign of their concern as to the garvity of the video call exposure. They remained quiet, no doubt following advice, and sat tight, issuing a few social media posts claiming their comments were taken ‘out of context’ but even these were unusually half hearted and were not worthy of response. The MFHA hunkered down in appearing to believe they could sit this situation out.
They were wrong. ITV news, broadcast on the main 10pm evening bulletin, a video of the Beaufort Hunt actively hunting live quarry. Despite the claims of the Countryside Alliance that the Beaufort were Trail hunting, the hard hitting footage brought the reality of hunting into living rooms throughout the UK and the British public were ‘outraged’ Trail hunting, already realing from the MFHA video exposure was now exposed as the brutal, cruel and cynical activity it has always been.
Importantly, The ITV news report confirmed that the Police were investigating the allegations made on the MFHA video calls. This was the breakthrough we had all been hoping for.
The police investigation will be headed by Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton, part of Devon and Cornwall and National Police Chief Council. Netherton wrote the Operational Advice on Responding to Hunting Incidents document for the National Police Chiefs Council.
In over thirty years actively opposing hunters, I have seen myself the depravity and brutality of fox hunting. I’ve seen foxes killed horrifically, and I’ve seen many more run to freedom. In my experience the majority of Police Officers oppose hunting, but most, have little understanding of the Hunting Act, and, for example, often won’t ask to see Terrier Mens written authorisation from the Landowner, which they must have with them, as this is requirement of the act.
I’m sure the MFHA Zoom videos will have been watched with interest in many Police forces across the UK, and many hard working Police Officers will not take kindly to being treated as ‘mugs’ for over fifteen years, nor, will they be feeling confident in supporting any of their mates who ‘like a spot of hunting’.
Once the news of the pending Police investigation was revealed, it was vital to encourage national landowners to withdraw the permission to hunt. A busy day on social media for many of us, was rewarded when Forestry England announced the suspension of all Hunting licences on its land until the outcome of the Police investigation. The hunting facade was cracking, and the frenzy of activity from wildlife campaigners soon caused an avalanche of landowners, such as the National Trust and United Utilities who are the UK’s largest corporate landowner – suspending all hunting licences pending the outcome of the investigation.
I’ve heard it claimed many times that blood sport groups in the UK are powerful. I don’t agree with this. They are certainly influential, with many of their supporters coming from the English Institutions – such as Lords, Estate owners and of course, a number of Judiciary and serving and former Police officers. It’s also true, they have very ‘deep pockets’ and access to legal and financial support, often from within the ranks of the hunting, this is surely, the primary purpose for the very existence of the Masters of the Foxhounds Association. An incredibly expensive facade of ‘acceptability’ for a minority pastime whose main activity has an act of parliament to prohibit it. You couldn’t make this up! Smoke and Mirror, reflecting deception on a corporate scale.
The minority pastime of hunting wild animals with hounds was never a sport, as they have so often claimed. Hunting is widely deplored by the majority of the British public with over 8 out of 10 people calling for a complete ban on hunting.
Hunting has been fatally injured by this exposure. The video exposure will certainly ‘finish off’ the Hunters ‘bastard creation’ of Trail Hunting, what landowner can now allow these exposed liars back on their land? The thin veneer of acceptability, the MFHA may have had, has gone for good along with the trust of the majority of the British people, including many of those who they once relied upon for their support.
Like many of you I have been opposed to hunting all my life and I want to see an effective ban on hunting with the ‘teeth’ of custodial sentences for those who break the law.
I hope you will continue to use your own influence and add your voice to the many of us who want to see an end to blood hunting in the UK. 2020 has been an incredibly hard year for all of us, but my faith has been restored because we are one massive step closer to achieving the end of blood hunting, thanks to a dedicated and hardworking group of Hunt Saboteurs, and one very courageous and dedicated wildlife warrior. If you would like to support the vital work of the Hunt Sabotuers please give what you can here Thank You