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POWA Press letters

Archive of POWA mailings to the papers

Not to press but...

POWA to CPS re. failure to prosecute Cheshire Forest FH over latest known kill on 26-12-17

I write on behalf of Protect Our Wild Animals [www.powa.org.uk], a longstanding national network of knowledgeable and experienced blood-sports campaigners.

Whilst we are fully cognisant of the manifold weaknesses and loopholes of the Hunting Act 2004, being by far the first group to call for its significant strengthening, we are more than disappointed with your office's failure to institute a prosecution against members of Cheshire Forest FH for illegal hunting on 26-12-17. We have seen and read much of the evidence presented to the police and your good self in this case and believe this is more than adequate to institute charges against, at least, the Huntsman and the terrierman. Several of our members are highly experienced hunt monitors and were responsible for collecting the evidence that, in December 2012, obliged the Heythrop FH, its Huntsman and a former Joint Master to plead guilty to 12 charges of illegal hunting. They know extremely well what is required to secure probable convictions.

In this case there is ample and strong evidence that Cheshire Forest FH do not, as they claim, engage in 'trail hunting' but repeatedly, often openly, set hounds to chase foxes. Indeed, they have killed more than one in recent times, including an occasion when they invaded a residential area and hounds killed a fox in a private garden. To both us and, surely, much of the public, it appears that they are being granted some kind of impunity, which surely cannot be the case..  

Not only does the Cheshire Forest Hunt appear to frequently engage in illegal hunting and, allegedly, persistently interfere with badger setts, but they also seem to be a considerable social nuisance to residents and landowners in the areas they hunt. We would strongly urge you to reconsider your decision not to prosecute in this case and thereby regain trust in your office's impartiality and sound judgement.    


POWA sent the following to the Independent on 20-2-18 -

Penny Little [17-2] rightly draws attention to the link between the hunting lobby in the US and spree shootings. But our media [still less our government] rarely acknowledges, still less highlights, the extent to which our own hunting with dogs fraternity, from dukes to dustmen, is drenched in criminality. 
This ranges from almost universal illegal chasing and killing of live quarry disguised as 'trail hunting', failure to control hounds on roads and railways endangering and obstructing road and rail users, constant, sometimes life-threatening, assaults and menaces against monitors and sabs, damage to and theft of their property, the hiring of thugs to protect their unlawful activities, the imperiling of livestock and pets to mass ignoring of vehicle regulations re.  use of quad bikes..
In all, this amounts to a massive, nationwide criminal conspiracy challenging the rule of law, made all the more disturbing by widespread police failure to act appropriately and even, at times apparent collusion with Hunts who frequently behave as though they can get away with anything. Given that legitimate cases against them are, most often, never brought at all or are so frequently heavily delayed or dropped when they are, Hunts have good reason to believe themselves virtually immune.  
Social media is increasingly exposing the true extent of the venality of organised Hunts [summarised at www.powa.org.uk/news.html]. Communities are beginning to organise themselves to protest and prevent their being ridden roughshod over, though those who don't already know are discovering how little protection they can expect from the authorities. The situation is scandalous and unsustainable and the government should take Labour's lead and significantly strengthen the Hunting Act. Meanwhile, they should instruct the police and CPS to properly deal, without undue deference, with these vicious gangs of rural law-breakers..
This won't, of course happen, because, despite majority disapproval of hunting with dogs by their own supporters, the Conservative party hierarchy remains strongly supportive of the bloodsport and happy to turn a blind eye to its many misdimeanours.  


POWA sent the following on 17-1-17 to the Western Morning News and Cornish papers re. the attack by Cury FH on a pet dog on a beach. The WMN published it , very slightly edited -

The attack by hounds of what appears to be the Cury Hunt on an attack on a pet dog on Gunwalloe beach on Saturday has been reported. The elderly owner is said to have been bitten while trying to beat the hounds off and stop them killing his greyhound, which was also injured. 

Although it seems that they went there to bathe their horses in the sea rather than to hunt, it is incredibly inconsiderate and stupid of the Hunt to take their hounds on to a public beach. They have caused considerable upset and offence, not just to the pet dog owners, by doing so. An apology is not enough and I hope they will at least compensate the owners.

Local hunt sabs report seeing and filming the Cury earlier. They believe they were illegally fox hunting and think they killed at least one. Whether they were or not, reports nationwide leave little doubt that Hunts very frequently flout the law and chase and kill live quarry, usually under the guise of 'trail hunting', a fictional 'sport' created to exploit the weak wording and loopholes of the Hunting Act.

On Saturday, it seems the Cury were hunting on National Trust land. The NT issues licences for 'trail hunting' but rarely responds to complaints of illegal hunting and need to be more vigilant. 

Police all over the country, including Cornwall, seem reluctant to try to enforce the Act, often simply accepting Hunts' excuses, even when compelling video evidence of illegal hunting is provided. When criminals circumvent the law it should be strengthened to stop them, not repealed to reward them. Readers can get more info and support us at www.campaigntostrengthenthehuntingact.com.



POWA sent the following to local, regional and local press on 19-12-16:-

Another Boxing Day soon and, yet again, we will to be shown chocolate-box pictures of hunt meets, fed inflated figures of attendees and told that Hunts now only follow scent trails.

Nothing could be less true. 'Trail hunting' is an almost entirely fictional 'sport', devised to exploit the weaknesses of the Hunting Act 2004. Most organised Hunts employ what one Judge called 'cynical subterfuge'* to carry on hunting and slaughtering foxes, deer and hares for 'sport', much as they did before the 'ban'. A former Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service has advised that the law is being 'extensively flouted'**. Although monitors and sabs often see and film*** them doing this , it is extraordinarily difficult to prove actual law-breaking, even without the obstruction, threats and violence with which Hunts so often greet them. .

Police and CPS are placed in a difficult position, often unable or unwilling to take on socially powerful and financially well-resourced Hunts in these circumstances.

So, what is effectively a huge, nationwide criminal conspiracy by a tiny, but powerful, minority is allowed to rage unchecked, undermining the clear will of the people and the rule of law - and thousands of defenceless wild animals continue to be tormented and killed for fun.

This cannot be allowed to continue. Please support Protect Our Wild Animal's campaign to strengthen the Hunting Act.


POWA sent the following to press for 10th anniversary of the coming into force of the Hunting Act, February 2015 :-

Ten years ago this Thursday the Hunting Act came into force. It was intended to end the cruel and barbaric 'sports' of using trained packs of killer dogs to chase and savage wild mammals to death, for the pleasure of a sick minority who form themselves into gangs called Hunts.

Whilst the Act was a hugely important symbolic victory for the cause of animal welfare, it has proved, in practice, to be of little real utility in restraining the bloodthirsty activities of these gangs, who continue to ride roughshod over the spirit and letter of the law, much as they promised to do before it was enacted.

This is largely because weaknesses and loopholes in the Act itself have allowed this. What the hunters are still permitted to do looks so like traditional pursuit of quarry that it is extraordinarily hard to produce evidence to convince police and the CPS, still less a court, that any observed chases are intentional, not the 'accidents' that Hunts pretend them to be. Hares, foxes and deer continue to suffer from the hunters' arrogant callousness.

Even on the rare occasions when organised hunters are convicted - just 32 in a decade - the sanctions are trifling, clearly providing no real deterrent. No less an authority than the Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service has told the RSPCA that flouting of the law by Hunts is widespread - and senior police officers and judges have commented on how hard it is to interpret and enforce. 

80% of the oublic - urban and rural - want the Hunting Act retained, but also want a law that works properly. This can only be achieved if the Act is significantly toughened up, as sought by www.campaigntostrengthenthehuntingact.com . Please support that, urge MPs and candidates to do the same - and vote for a party that will uphold and extend the welfare of wild mammals. not seek to destroy what little protection they have to please their own red-coated pals.


POWA sent the following to local weekly papers on the 10th anniversary of the Hunting Act 2004. We had just learnt that LACS had at long last accepted the need for strengthening.

On the 10th anniversary of the Hunting Act 2004, we are delighted that the League Against Cruel Sports has finally acknowledged that the law must be significantly strengthened.

It's long been obvious that, though successful in some ways, the Act can barely restrain organised Hunts. POWA have lobbied for amendments from the start and recently launched the Campaign to Strengthen the Hunting Act.. Many Hunts still conduct their bloody business with little fear of investigation, let alone sanction. Many cases which should succeed are not brought, dropped or lost, largely because of deficiencies in the Act.

The League has accepted our insistence that the Act needs a 'recklessness' clause so Hunts can't keep getting off by claiming 'accident',  that sanctions need toughening.and recognised 'trail hunting' as the sham it is, designed to disguise live quarry hunting.

We look forward to helping to fix the many problems we've long identified with the legislation, to finally stop Hunts continuing to hound wild mammals for fun. Though we still need the public, around 80% of whom oppose hunting with dogs, to elect a government with the courage and compassion to strengthen the Act. Clearly that won't be one led by the current PM and his hunt-loving colleagues.

POWA sent the following letter to 224 local weekly papers re. the launch of the Campaign to Strengthen the Hunting Act [CSHA] -


The official fox hunting season begins on Saturday - but the atrocity of 'cub hunting' has been going on for several weeks. The 'sport' of chasing and killing wild mammals with dogs was 'banned' by the Hunting Act 2004, yet many organised Hunts still ride roughshod over the spirit and letter of the law, just as many thousands of hunters pledged to before the Act was passed.

The ex Chief  Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service recently reported:-  ”traditional fox hunting remains 'business as usual'... Extensive flouting of the law risks bringing Parliament, the police and prosecuting authorities into disrepute.”

He urged the RSPCA to press for the law to be strengthened to ease enforcement. Protect Our Wild Animals has long argued for that - and enhanced deterrence. 

Evidence from people observing Hunts nationwide confirms many still regularly terrorise and slaughter wild mammals. But they almost always escape even investigation by exploiting weaknesses in the Act, often hiding behind the pretence of 'trail hunting'.

Even with video evidence, it is extremely hard to get legal action initiated, let alone prove hunting was intentional.  Claims of 'accident' normally suffice to exonerate Hunts.

The current Prime Minister wants, but has failed, to fully re-legalise this barbarity. Hopefully, the next Parliament will see the need to finally rein in the lawless hunters, and our case for this is at CampaigntoStrengthentheHuntingAct.com.

A graphic DVD illustrating our arguments has been sent to many potential decision-makers, but our still-suffering wildlife needs the help of your readers, the great majority of whom dislike the cruelty of traditional hunting. By telling MPs and candidates they want the Hunting Act strengthened, they can help ensure that our society is truly freed from the disgusting 'sport' of hunting wild mammals with hounds'.

yours faithfully,         Alan Kirby M.Sc, Protect Our Wild Animals    www.powa.org.uk  

Notes to editors:-

 'Cub hunting' , often now euphemistically called 'autumn hunting', occurs in the several week period before the formal start of the fox-hunting season. Then, young hounds are trained, in the Duke of Beaufort's words, 'to be savage with their fox'. They are let loose on juvenile foxes in a copse, which is surrounded by riders who drive back any who emerge while fleeing the dogs. Usually conducted secretly early in the morning, 'cubbing' is still widely practised, often under cover of the ludicrous 'Falconry Exemption'. 

The ex Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service is Stephen Wooler, CB. On 24-9-14 he published   'The independent review of the prosecution activity of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals'.

Proof that most of your readers disapprove of traditional hunting - see the  IPSOS/MORI poll, December 2013. Headline finding - 80% of urban AND rural respondents said the Hunting Act should not be repealed, with just 16% saying it should. Figure for number disapproving of fox hunting was also 80%,. For deer hunting it was 85% and for hare hunting/coursing 87%.

The following was sent to the Worcester News in response to 2 letters criticising the local MP for supporting repeal of the Hunting Act:-

Re. the letter from C.Stanley [Worcester News, 10-10-14]. So frequently is the 'ban' on hunting being ridden over roughshod by organised Hunts that their supporters, such as Mr.Walker, sometimes seem to forget that it is, supposedly, illegal.
The Hunting Act is so riddled with weak wording and loopholes that they can - and many do - carry on hunting with little or no fear of investigation or sanction. A very senior, independent lawyer recently reported to the RSPCA that Hunts are 'extensively flouting' the law and urged the Society to press for better legislation to make the ban easier to enforce.
Protect Our Wild Animals [powa.org.uk] has been calling for just that for several years. With the prospect of a change of government, we are about to formally launch a full-on campaign for the Act to be significantly strengthened in the next Parliament to ease enforcement and enhance deterrence. See campaigntostrengthenthehuntingact.com where readers can also sign our petition. It's time the hunters were firmly and finally reined in so that they cannot keep getting away with chasing and killing wild mammals for their disgusting 'sport'.
Alan Kirby, M.Sc POWA

The following was sent to broadsheet nationals, regional and some local papers on 31-7-14:-

There have lately been reports in pro-hunt newspapers suggesting that the RSPCA should and will desist from prosecuting organised Hunt members accused of flouting the Hunting Act. 
A tiny, but rich and powerful, minority of fellow bloodsports fanatics have been waging a vicious campaign of propaganda against the RSPCA because it had the nerve to - successfully - prosecute one of the country's leading Hunts, the Heythrop. Note that it and two of its members pleaded guilty to 12 charges of illegal hunting - though they denied everything until the last moment, cynically forcing the RSPCA into spending very large sums on extensive trial preparation. 
The independent monitors who obtained the evidence against the Hunt had presented the RSPCA with mountains of damning evidence of deliberate fox hunting over many months. They had gained similar evidence many times in previous seasons against various Hunts, only to find the police and CPS refusing to act on it. In acquiring  this, they had to deal with constant obstruction, harassment and threats from hunters as well as property damage and assaults.
The RSPCA exists to try to prevent cruelty to all animals, not just pets. It cannot and should not turn a blind eye to illegal hunting. The Society has, with the state's ready acceptance [it saves it massive resources], taken on the main role in prosecuting animal abusers for many decades. Only when the haughty hunters found themselves affected did we start to hear 'concerns' about this.
Pro-hunt campaigners say the Act should be scrapped because it is not working well. But that is because weaknesses and loopholes in the Act have allowed organised Hunts to ride roughshod over the spirit and letter of the law - legislation supported by 80% of the public, urban and rural.
Many Hunts continue to chase and kill wild animals for fun, knowing there is very little chance of being brought to book for it, since the evidence bar required to gain convictions is ridiculously high, monitors have to risk their safety to try to obtain it and police and CPS usually find the cases too 'challenging'. 
The answer is to strengthen the Hunting Act, not repeal it, so that enforcement is easier and deterrence greater. Readers, please support the Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA] campaign to that end so that the barbarism of hunting wild mammals with dogs for 'sport' can be truly ended. 

The following was sent to a selection of press and broadcasters on 17-3-14:-
Otis Ferry to pay very substantial damages for attack on two female hunt monitors
Court orders Ferry and co-defendant John Deutsch to pay them over £32,000 plus costs
Judge talks of 'angry attack' during Heythrop Hunt meet, with both men equally liable
Otis Ferry, 'celebrity' son of rock star Bryan, pro-hunt activist and Joint Master of the South Shropshire Hunt has, agreed to pay very substantial damages to two female hunt monitors, Mrs. Helen Ghalmi, who is a Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA] Associate, and Mrs. Susan Grima, after a 4 year legal battle by them. Ferry's last-minute offers of settlement were made and accepted immediately before trial in civil court. Mrs. Ghalmi is to be paid £8,000 by Ferry and Mrs. Grima a similar amount.
Ferry and his co-defendant, a Heythrop rider named John Deutsch, had already been convicted in Crown Court, on 22-5-09, for attacking the two ladies in November 2007. Both men pleaded guilty to a public order offence. They had originally been charged with robbery and assault, but the former charges were dropped after a claim that it was intended to return the items removed. However, a video camera which Ferry was accused of having taken has not been returned.
The ladies, however, felt that the sentences - Discharges and £350 fines - which the Judge ordered paid to them as compensation - were nowhere near adequate to reflect the gravity of the offences against them and the terror and trauma they had suffered. They consequently launched civil claims against both Ferry and Deutsch, which have only recently been concluded.  
Mrs. Ghalmi and Mrs. Grima were monitoring the Heythrop Fox Hounds on 21-11-07 near Lower Swell, Gloucs, in order to collect evidence of any illegal hunting [1]. They stated that their car was overtaken and blocked in by a vehicle being driven by Deutsch in a country lane. Deutsch then stormed towards their vehicle shouting abuse at them and violently ripped out the passenger side-window, right next to Ms. Grima, causing the glass to explode into tiny fragments.
Otis Ferry, who was a guest-rider with the Heythrop that day, then arrived and, also shouting, joined in the attack on the ladies. Mrs.Ghalmi says that he tried to pull her out of the car, snatched her video-camera and then wrested her keys from her hand, during which her arm and fingers were injured. Ferry then made off with the camera on horseback and admits he later wiped the film. Police arrived soon after, by when both attackers had made off. They later found the car keys discarded by Ferry. Both ladies were terrified for their safety throughout the joint attack by Ferry and Deutsch.
Ferry's last-minute settlement offer meant he did not have to attend Court, but Deutsch continued to contest the ladies' claims. Delivering his judgement [2] at Brentford County Court  on 5-3-14, Circuit Judge H.H.J.Powles, QC said he found Deutsch's evidence wholly incredible. He stated that this was 'an angry attack by a man who trapped them and made them fear for their safety', noted his 'indifference and lack of concern' and concluded he had 'deliberately lied to the Court'. He further stated of Ferry and Deutsch that 'they acted together' and 'each is liable as much as the other.'
The ladies' counsel, David Rivers of Old Square Chambers, has published a digest of the case online. They were also represented by Howe & Co, Solicitors, of Brentford.
Speaking of the attack and its aftermath Mrs. Ghalmi said:-
"I am so relieved it is finally over. The judge has listened to the evidence and rightly concluded that this was a vicious attack carried out solely because we were monitoring the Heythrop Hunt and these two individuals took it upon themselves to try and get rid of us. To be trapped in a confined space in the middle of no where while two men attacked us was a terrifying and distressing ordeal to say the least.  It was a nasty cowardly act by these two men and they should be ashamed of themselves. I just hope this sends out a clear message to all hunts that we won't tolerate this kind of aggression towards monitors anymore. It's been an extremely long drawn out process but its been worth it to have it recognised at last just how awful an ordeal this was and that when you cause harm to another it is only right and just that you should be held accountable. On that day we experienced a real taste of what the poor foxes go through."
Mrs. Grima said:-  
"I'm just relieved that its now finally over and I can try and move on with my life. As a result of the attack I have been left with severe migraines and they show no sign of stopping, for all I know I may suffer with them for the rest of my life. I was left with PTSD and this got to the point where it prevented me from wanting to leave my home, I couldn't even bring myself to go and visit my mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. What these men did was vicious and yet even after pleading guilty they chose to prolong the suffering by dragging this case on for so long, thankfully the judge saw right through the lies."
Alan Kirby, POWA spokesman, added:-  "This is very far from the first time that pro-hunting fanatic Otis Ferry has been in trouble with the law and/or has had serious accusations made against him and his Hunt [3]. It is gratifying to see he and his companion being made to pay for this vicious attack on two defenceless women in an isolated location. This was just one of many such attacks, some even more violent and terrifying, by hunters and hunt supporters on anti-hunt activists which occur with disturbing regularity and which the authorities rarely treat with the seriousness they deserve [4]."
Notes for editors:-
[1].  Mrs. Ghalmi, who still monitors, and Ms. Grima were part of a volunteer group of monitors who  regularly follow fox hunts in the South Midlands area, including the Heythrop, to gather evidence of any illegal hunting. The group have long claimed that the Heythrop regularly flouted the Hunting Act 2004. Over several years, they frequently submitted video evidence and witness testimony of these alleged breaches, but were nearly always rebuffed by the police/CPS. Finally, in 2008, the CPS charged the Heythrop Huntsman with 4 counts of illegal hunting, but later dropped the charges. Despairing of bringing the Hunt to justice through the normal channels, the monitor group took a large amount of further evidence to the RSPCA, who agreed to prosecute. In December 2012, this eventually resulted in the Heythrop Hunt and two of its members pleading guilty to 12 charges of illegal hunting. These monitors are regularly obstructed, abused, threatened, subjected to property damage and theft and even assaulted by hunt followers. Since 2005, no fewer than 14 separate followers of the Heythrop have been convicted of, or cautioned by police for, such offences against hunt monitors. Further details here . 
[2].   Copy of judgement available on request to author of this email.
[3].   Further information regarding Otis Ferry and his Hunt [more detail available on request] :-
- In 2002, Ferry was arrested while trying to creep into PM Tony Blair's constituency home garden in darkness at 4 a.m.and was cautioned by police.
- In 2004, whilst pro-hunt demonstators were rioting in Parliament Square, he led an invasion of the  chamber of the House of Commons and was convicted of Disorderly Conduct.
- In 2006, Ferry admitted drink-driving and was heavily fined, but escaped a driving ban when a friend claimed that he had 'spiked' Ferry's drinks.
- In 2007, Ferry was reportedly cautioned by police after spending the night in the cells following a scuffle with a photographer. .
- In 2008 he was cleared of two counts of criminal damage against photographers' cars.  
- In 2008, he was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice while awaiting trail for robbery and assault against the hunt monitors. He spent four months on remand. The CPS eventually dropped the 'witness-nobbling' charges in mysterious circumstances. 
- In 2009, he gave an interview to the Sunday Times replete with foul language, in which he insulted non-white immigrants and called a female Labour MP a 'bitch'.
- In 2010 a landowner claimed that Ferry's hounds killed a fox on her land, terrified a cat and horses and that hunters laughed at and abused her. Ferry claimed they'd lost control while 'trail hunting', but didn't apologise.
- Also in 2010, Ferry joined a Radio 5 phone-in under a false name, but was unmasked on air. Presenter Nicky Campbell accused Ferry of assaulting him at a Countryside Alliance rally.
- Also in 2010, a Shropshire village resident published an article on the internet. The woman claimed that Ferry had launched a prolonged campaign of persecution against she and her husband after they reported seeing him beat a terrier to death in his garden.
- In 2011, Ferry appeared in Court charged with failing to give the identity of a driver who'd allegedly committed an offence [outcome unknown]. 
- In January 2012, Ferry had to apologise after his hounds run amok in a village, caused traffic chaos on a main road and spooked a resident's horses, endangering them.
- In February 2012, Ferry was the Senior Master when the Hunt called police to a meet at a village pub after anti-hunt protesters turned up. Police took one female into custody, who has recently been paid substantial damages by them for assault and wrongful arrest. Two weeks later, hunt saboteurs say they were attacked by a mob of supporters of Ferry's Hunt. The same female was targeted and hospitalised with a broken nose and cheekbone [see here 24-2-14].
- Later in 2012, Ferry was convicted of failing to provide a specimen after arrest on suspicion of drink-driving. He was fined and disqualified from driving for 3 years.
[4].  See, for instance, the very recent Press Release 'Travesty of Justice'.

The following was sent to the Western Morning News and Western Daily Press [published 22-1-14] - 
Separating town from the countryside  -  Mel Stride MP (Daily Press January 18) complains bitterly of government interference in "rural communities", as though they are separate from the rest of society and should not be subject to the same rules. But he and they would presumably not wish to see withdrawn the vast public subsidies which support and enrich the agricultural economy, without which it would be much poorer and some sectors unviable. Despite the recession, austerity and massive public service cuts elsewhere, the level of farm and estate subsidy seems to grow like Topsy. The livestock industry has proved itself over again to be unable to manage itself without creating disasters. First BSE, due to slackened regulation lobbied for and obtained by the rendering sector, created national panic and cost the taxpayer £3 billion plus.

Then foot and mouth, the speed and extent of whose spread was largely due to unnecessary livestock movements, as farmers chased more subsidies such as "bed and breakfasting". Again taxpayers forked out billions. Now the bTB fiasco, with the poor badgers being scapegoated, against expert scientific advice, for the failures of the livestock industry in husbandry and control of cattle movements. By the time the Hunting Act was eventually brought in the great majority of public opinion, urban and rural, had favoured a ban on the cruel chasing and killing of wild animals for 'sport' for decades and it had only been spared because, though tiny in number, the bloodsports lobby has huge social and economic power. The Burns Inquiry estimated the total number of participants in hunting with hounds at around 60,000 – less than one per thousand of the population. The hunting lobby's continued claims to speak for "the rural community" are mendacious, self-serving insults to decent countryside people.  Many hunts are still exercising power by browbeating anyone who seeks to enforce the hunting ban and by taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Act to continue their "sport" under the cynical guise of "trail hunting", sticking two fingers up to the law because they know that enforcement is sparse and weak, and that the burden of proof the Act requires is usually insuperable. It must be strengthened to stop them, not repealed to reward them. Readers can visit www.powa.org.uk to see why and how.   Alan Kirby, Protect Our Wild Animals

The following was sent to W.Daily Press, W.Morning News, Mid-Devon Gazette and Exeter Express on 19-12-13 in response to articles about Tory MPs pressing for the full pack flushing amendment to be introduced quickly:-

A pro-hunting MP [Cameron told to relax hunting ban... 17-12] wants the Hunting Act amended to allow a whole pack of hounds [up to 40] to flush out quarry to be shot. The current limit is two.

Mr. Parish at least admits his motive is 'to do something for country sports', though the idea was originally, and deceptively, presented, as only to help save poor Welsh hill farmers from having their flocks allegedly savaged by imagined marauding packs of foxes.

The amendment would, indeed, 'do something for country sports' as it would seriously blur the existing line between flushing for 'pest control' and full-scale 'sport' quarry hunting, currently still being widely practised in the guise of 'trail' hunting, and make obtaining prosecutions of illegal hunting even harder than now. This is why the pro-hunt have advanced it, knowing they can't win a Commons vote on repeal.

But Parish clutches at straws by spinning the survey recently published to try to make it read favourably. The full polling data is on Orb International's website and not hard to interpret.

The question, posed in an anodyne way, is whether the Government 'making it easier for farmers to shoot foxes for pest control' would make voters more or less likely to vote Conservative. The key answer was that given by all 2,001 people polled. Only 15% said 'more likely' [just 6% 'much more'] and 26% said 'less' [18% 'much less']. Overall, the policy is clearly a vote loser.

You'd think the figures from Welsh respondents should be better, but they're actually much worse [just 7 vs 35%]. You'd expect 'rural' voters to be supportive, since we're constantly [and falsely] being assured that the rural community strongly favours hunting. Sorry, no [14 vs 23%].

To produce his supposed positive outcome, Mr. Parish relies on a mere 300 'swing' voters. This is too small a sample from which to draw reliable conclusions, but, anyway, it seems unlikely those 'swing' voters polled were representative on the issue, because, for all parties, their replies to the question were much more positive than were those of the much larger number of other voters asked and way out of line with previous polling of the nation on hunting.

Even so, if only because it is supported by Mr. Cameron and the DEFRA Sec. of State, who seems pathologically keen on slaughtering wildlife, we may well see an attempt to weaken the Hunting Act soon. We trust enough MPs will see through this desperate measure and reject it.

Many of your readers might wonder why Mr. Parish, who is a livestock farmer and very strongly pro badger-cull and hunting for 'sport' came to be Chair of the Commons All Party Animal Welfare Group.


The following was sent to all press and some broadcasters on 15-10-13.  It is known to have been published by  published in the Leicester Mercury, Western Mail, S.Wales Echo, The Cornishman, Plymouth Herald, W.Daily Press and W.Morning News 

The proposal to amend the Hunting Act to allow wild animals to be flushed from cover using a full pack of [around 40] hounds rather than the present limit of two is just a cynical attempt to further muddy and undermine the law and make it even harder for monitors and prosecutors to bring transgressing hunters to justice.
Knowing that they do not have the votes, let alone public support. to repeal the Hunting Act, the pro-hunt forces, including our Prime Minister, have cooked up a vaguely plausible sounding excuse to just amend it, purportedly for the sake of poor, suffering Welsh hill farmers whose flocks are allegedly under seige from packs of ravening foxes. In fact, DEFRA itself has long said that fox predation is an 'insignificant' factor in lamb mortality - as many scientific studies have confirmed - and nobody has ever produced film of a fox attacking a viable lamb.
They cite in support of the proposal a 'study' conducted by, you guessed it, hunters and display their usual grotesque hypocrisy by arguing this would somehow actually help fox welfare! The 'full pack' exemption would, of course, be available to all Hunts, intentionally blurring yet further the line between 'pest control' and hunting for 'sport', and giving them even more opportunity to pretend that any chases, or kills, that resulted were 'accidents'. Even if the intention really was to shoot the quarry as soon as it was flushed from cover, having a full pack milling around the area would surely make that much harder and more dangerous
Not only this, but the proposal would effectively relegalise perhaps the most gruesome and distressing aspect of the 'sport' - cub hunting. Hunts would be free once more to unleash dozens of hounds to chase and dismember young foxes within coverts, the means by which they train the new hounds in their bloody business. To allow the use of full packs for 'flushing' will largely neutralise the Hunting Act, which is precisely their intention. I would appeal to your readers, the vast majority of whom are opposed to the barbarity of hunting with dogs, to write to their MPs to ask them to oppose this cynical attempt to so weaken this essential and popular law.
yours faithfully, Alan Kirby, for Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA]

The following was sent to all press and some broadcasters on 25-12-12:-

Once again, reports of Boxing Day Hunts treat us to nauseating 'chocolate box' portrayals of gangs whose real intent and desire is to terrorise and slaughter wildlife for fun. Their accounts are unquestioned, their claims of innocent 'trail hunting' taken at face value - despite ever-growing evidence that it's a massive fraud.

The recent Heythrop convictions - forced into admitting 12 charges of illegal hunting - are far from the first where the Hunts' contention that they just follow trails, and suffer occasional 'accidents', has been exposed as a sham.

Hunts nationwide employ ruses and exploit loopholes in the Act to continue hunting live quarry much as before the ban, and bamboozle police forces, usually reluctant anyway, into not acting against them.

In previous recent cases - the Fernie in 2011, the Crawley & Horsham and the Meynell this year - the presiding judges saw through their flimsy pretences and condemned the evidence they gave as the 'cynical subterfuge' it was.

But the the Heythrop Judge barely criticised the self-confessed offenders at all, making his pro-hunt sympathies evident and notably failed to praise the brave and dedicated volunteer monitors who did the police's job in exposing the Hunt's repeated law-breaking.

They have to bear repeated assaults, threats, harassment, obstruction, vile abuse and damage from thuggish hunt followers. Much evidence of this, and their suspicious, hunting activity, is at www.powa.org.uk .

The Hunting Act was passed with overwhelming public support, People expect the law against the cruel chasing and killing of wild mammals for 'sport' to be upheld. The tiny, but highly vocal, rich, powerful hunting monority, however, made no secret of their intent to disregard it and continue their vile, vicious pastimes.

Somebody has to stand up for decency and the rule of law, to defend the defenceless. The police will rarely do it, and the media are largely compliant with hunters' lies. Thank goodness for the monitors and the RSPCA. What Gavin Grant, their CEO said, applies to many Hunts;- 'This was deliberate, repeated, intentional abuse of animals....These people are wildlife criminals.'

The following was sent to the Western Morning News and published by them on 20-11-12.  It was in response to an article in the paper about the S.Devon FH's opening meet and their purported use of a golden eagle under the Falconry Exemption in the Hunting Act 2004.

    In my opinion: Hunting for live quarry won't end under current Act

Mr Phelps (November 10) is right to query the purported use of birds of prey such as the South Devon Hunt's eagle 'Artemis' in hunting with hounds.

In nearly eight years, no hunt monitor has ever witnessed, or even seen film of, such birds actually being so used. The exemption was one of the many loopholes inserted into the Hunting Act, either very naively or perhaps as part of the 'sabotage' of which Tony Blair boasted in his autobigraphy. The fact that the country's leading falconry body, the Hawk Board, fervently opposed it, and was ignored, lends support to the latter theory.

The Falconry Exemption, in particular, readily gave hunts scope to carry on hunting live quarry much as before but pretend they were acting within the law. Given that more than 50,000 hunters had, it was claimed by the Countryside Alliance, previously sworn to defy any ban, including this loophole, was like handing a flame-thrower to a pyromaniac.

Many hunts cart such a bird, usually a smaller eagle owl or Harris hawk, around with them so that, if challenged as to why they are rampaging through coverts with their full pack of hounds, putting up and often chasing foxes, they can claim they were 'flushing' to the bird of prey. This cynical subterfuge is often used instead of, or as an adjunct to, the standard one that they were 'trail' hunting and had an 'accident'.

The Hawk Board were rightly concerned about the welfare of the birds. Whilst a golden eagle probably could kill a fox, such a confrontation would likely be bloody, prolonged and fraught with danger for it. Smaller birds of prey would almost certainly come off worst.

The potential danger of bird/hound clashes is also evident, ignoring the suffering likely to be caused to the quarry.

The Hawk Board ought also to be worried by the usual way such birds are transported while following hunts – often crammed into tiny boxes attached to quad bikes and bounced around on rough terrain.

But surely no one still seriously expects hunts to care much about the welfare of the animals they use as tools for their grisly 'sport'. It does seem extraordinary that respected news organs such as the Western Morning News continue to reproduce hunt propaganda, which is almost never properly evidenced and sometimes untrue, and effectively promote and protect a cruel, barbaric 'sport' which is supposed to have been outlawed.

Despite a few successful convictions of organised hunts recently, due to a combination of extraordinary dedication by monitors and extreme and arrogant recklessness in law-breaking by the hunters, the lax wording and loopholes in the Act still make it extraordinarily difficult to secure prosecutions. The scourge of live quarry hunting for fun will not begin to be eliminated until the Hunting Act, and its sanctions, are significantly toughened up.
Alan Kirby, Protect Our Wild Animals

2-11-12     The following was sent to all press in response to publication of new CA advice to Hunts. To our knowledge, it was published in Western Morning News, Western Daily Press, Bath Chronicle and Tribune.

Dear Editor,

The Countryside Alliance has recently advised Hunts to inveigle their way into schools to get their pro-hunting 'message' across*. They suggest encouraging them to "adopt" a hound and arrange visits to hunt kennels and meets.

So that children do not become too attached to their adoptees, I trust they will explain that hounds - although beautiful, loyal dogs - are simply tools of the hunters' trade. Kids would surely be very upset to find that 'Bluebell' or 'Bracken' was one of the thousands shot every year, either for failing to learn how to chase and kill wildlife well, or - at 6 or 7 - for just being too old. Or imagine the tearful little faces when they are told Bluebell was killed chasing a fox across a road, or Bracken squashed by a train as he scented along the railway.

When supervising visits to 'adopted' hounds, teachers would be wise not to let the kiddies stroke the dogs, or allow face-licking. That risks them acquiring nasty infections, including Hydatid disease, a rare but potentially fatal illness. This can arise from hounds being fed on uncooked meat from dead livestock, collected by hunts as free food for the dogs.

Will Hunts also tell the children when Bluebell or Bracken rip an exhausted wild animal - or someone's pet - to pieces, by 'accident' ? And will they acknowledge it was they who trained them to kill animals for the 'entertainment' of hunt followers?

Honesty is best when dealing with children and duty of care is paramount. But Hunts, who will say anything to defend their 'sport', and who so often behave in reckless and anti-social ways, can hardly be trusted to deliver either.

Yours sincerely,      Helen Weeks, Associate, Protect Our Wild Animals

*  The Countryside Alliance advice to Hunts is  here.   The story was originally broken by the Daily Telegraph.

26-5-12   In response to a letter from Martin Bell, POWA sent the following to the Western Morning News. It was published, somewhat abridged, by the WMN on 31-5-12. The main parts left out by the paper are in italics, and a copy of Mr.Bell's letter is beneath POWA's letter

Cameron will never give up support for hunting

David Cameron may, as your correspondent Martin Bell [25th May] suggested, have an inkling that pushing his support for hunting with dogs is not politically wise, but he won't be able, or want, to extricate himself from the policy of Hunting Act repeal.

This is not just because his wife's stepfather, Lord Astor, is Chairman of the Hunting Act Repeal Committee; nor because his close political friends Nick Herbert MP [ex hare hunt Master/ Countryside Alliance official] and Edward Garnier MP also served on the body before he appointed them Policing Minister and Solicitor-General respectively: nor because the Tory MPs he appointed to Government posts are nearly all as strongly pro-bloodsports as himself: nor because Mr.Cameron is heavily in hock to strongly pro-hunt Tory donors - mostly financiers and/or big landowners from his own privileged social background - and the small army of hunters who canvassed, disguised as normal people, against anti-hunt candidates of other parties, under the aegis of the Tory/hunter front group Vote OK.

It is largely because he is a dyed-in-the-wool hunt supporter. Hunters are very much 'his people', particularly the members of his home set, the Heythrop [now facing multiple illegal hunting charges], to whom he is known to be particularly close. Bloodsports are deeply ingrained in his background and mind-set and he seems incapable of understanding what the great majority of normal, civilised people believe about hunting - that it is an unnecessary, cruel and barbaric 'sport', practised mostly by ruthless, arrogant and callous bullies.

Cameron's pro-hunt credentials helped him secure his candidacy in Witney and, later, as leader of the Party. He talked about fox hunting in his maiden speech. His first, and for a long-time only, firm policy commitment after becoming leader was to repeal the Hunting Act.

We 'antis' from organisations such as Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA] did our best to alert the public to what lurked behind Cameron's PR-construct mask of affability, to little avail and he became PM. But now that mask is slipping ever more often, it is becoming obvious how little in touch with the lives and sentiments of most ordinary people he really is - and how much he prefers to foster the interests of his friends and client groups.

It is certainly not 'absurd' to assert that people who abuse animals, whether wild, as in hunters' quarry, or domestic, as in the hounds, and sometimes horses, they exploit so pitilessly for their 'sport', are more likely than most to be violent towards people. Research over the last couple of decades has firmly established a strong link between the two behaviours and, though it is little acted upon here, several American states now have formal mutual reporting systems between police, Social Services and animal welfare organisations.

The recent conviction of the Huntsman of the Tiverton Staghounds for rape was by no means an isolated example of hunter criminality, even for serious sexual offences. In what is itself probably just the tip of the iceberg, I have recorded reports of no less than 307 hunters convicted or cautioned for criminal offences in the last 20 odd years, largely for acts of violence, intimidation and abuse, mostly in the hunting field. Other seriously anti-social behaviours, such as drink-driving [like the recent N.Devon case], also figure highly.

At least 8 supporters of the PM's Hunt, the Heythrop have been punished for assaulting or threatening hunt monitors, or damaging their property. In the case of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt, three of whose members were very recently fined for illegal hunting, no fewer than 17 hunt officials, staff and supporters are known to have been convicted or cautioned.

Many hunters, met socially, can indeed seem 'nice', even normal. But, one should most judge people [including the PM] on what they favour and practise and who they associate with, rather than how they present themselves. Some, of course, only attend hunts for social reasons and avoid the 'sharp end', but most are in it for the 'thrill of the chase'. It is not 'nice', it is not normal, to gain enjoyment from harrying, terrifying and killing animals for fun. It reveals a lack of basic human empathy and compassion, a darkness of the soul, that should be evident to everyone, including the media who so often present a 'chocolate box' image of hunting and ignore its brutal essence, thereby affording comfort and respectability to these reprobates.

It is an open secret that the spirit and letter of the Hunting Act is widely flouted by organised Hunts, who believe they should be above the law - indeed, extraordinarily, the PM even recently made that assertion himself.

The Act is full of weak wording and loopholes and it is extraordinarily difficult to enforce and prove offences, partly because hunters abuse and obstruct observers - and engage in what one Judge called 'cynical subterfuge' to disguise their nefarious activities. But, when criminals circumvent the law it should be strengthened to stop them, not repealed to reward them.

yours faithfully, Alan Kirby, M.Sc, Protect Our Wild Animals

Letter from Martin Bell, first published on 'This is Cornwall' website 25-5-12 and in the WMN print edition 28-5-12:-
Cameron needs to be told hunting is a major vote loser
Presumably there are enough readers interested in the Hunting Act saga to justify WMN reporting the two sides' spin merchants Sir Barney White-Spunner and Bill Oddie but I thought the implication that hunters are four times more likely to be rapists, headbutters or wife beaters was absurd. The few I have met from the St. Breward based North Cornwall Hunt are nice people, nuts about horses or respectable farming folk.

Without a majority in Parliament for the repeal of the Hunting Act, Dave Cameron left it out of this session's Queen's Speech. It will be a vote loser for the Conservatives at the next General Election, particularly amongst 18-24 year old urban voters. Repeal of the Act links the Tories to images of rich, stony-faced toffs on horseback peering down their beaky noses into camera lenses.

I'm frankly amazed whenever I hear leading Conservatives like Cameron and Jim Paice justifying it. You won't find press photos of Cameron riding out with his local Heythrop Hunt.

Charlie Brooks, horse trainer husband of Cameron's Murdoch organisation friend Rebekah Brooks, is a leading figure in the Heythrop.

The photos of Cameron have all been removed, so he knows how unpopular hunting is with the public yet despite this he continues to promise a repeal vote he knows he can't deliver because his Gloucestershire social set and his father-in-law Lord Astor – Chairman of the Old Berks Hunt – are all fox hunting folk.

Perhaps he does it to shut them up or encourage large financial contributions to Conservative coffers but you can imagine the whoops of elation in Labour Party HQ each time he's quoted by the media.

Urban Tory MPs should tell Cameron to stop behaving like a political amateur and hire election strategist Lynton Crosby who secured Boris Johnson's re-election. He would probably advise Cameron that the support of the hunting set won't win the Tories the next General Election and might very well lose it if hunting activists canvass for the party on urban doorsteps. I'm reminded of a public school accented lady wearing the Sloane uniform of navy cashmere sweater, Alice band and single string of pearls, who was distributing Tory election pamphlets around a leafy ward in Labour MP Tessa Jowell's South London constituency when she happened upon me emerging from my blocked drainage manhole. She looked shocked and ran away claiming she wasn't really a Conservative, just delivering the leaflets for a Tory friend. I must have smelled like a Labour supporter.

27-12-11    In the wake of the Boxing Day meets and Farming Minister Jim Paice's call for repeal of the Hunting Act, POWA wrote to national, regional and local newspapers as follows:-

Dear Sir,

Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA] urges the Prime Minister to reject the call for repeal of the Hunting Act by Farming Minister Jim 'Kill the Badgers' Paice and to denounce and clamp down on the 'cynical subterfuge' being employed by Hunts nationwide to flout the spirit and letter of the ‘ban' on hunting with hounds.

Many Hunts exploit weak enforcement and the Act's many loopholes to chase and kill live quarry much as they did pre-ban. They pretend to be using certain exemptions or 'Trail Hunting', pretend they lost control of their hounds by 'accident' every time they are seen chasing forbidden quarry.

Among other incidents in December:- a fox was 'accidentally' chased into a family's garden in Essex and bludgeoned to death feet from the horrified residents [police said there was nothing they could do] ; a beloved cat was 'trail hunted' to death by N.Yorkshire Hunts, its corpse contemptuously returned days later in a dog food bag; and a fox was 'trail hunted' through a housing estate and on to a major road in Shropshire, in another 'freak accident'.

The 'cynical subterfuge' a judge recently condemned Fernie FH hunters for using in trying to hide their crimes is actually widespread, with many Hunts arrogantly mocking the authorities and the popular will.

They behave as though above the law, as inner-city gangs did in August. Like looters, these rural gangsters should be brought to heel. When criminals circumvent the law, it's strengthened to stop them, not repealed to reward them.

Regrettably, most of the media, by tending to show only 'chocolate box' images of Hunt meets, not only disguise the cruel truth from the public but comfort the lawless.

Images of the brutal and sordid reality of hunting, its 'sharp end', where terrified and exhausted wild animals are ripped at by slavering dogs urged on by excited hunters, would send soaring the proportion of the public wanting these barbaric activities properly banned, even above its present 3-1*. Then, perhaps, those who should know better would stop, openly or tacitly, supporting this vile and vicious 'sport'.   


Notes for editors:-

References to all specific incidents above, and many other instances of outrageous and violent behaviour by supposedly ‘law-abiding' hunts can be found on POWA's Hunting News website page.

* Poll published 26-12-11 by YouGov for League Against Cruel Sports

This letter is known to have been published in:- London Metro, Western Daily Press, Western Morning News, Bristol Evening Post, Staffs Newsletter, Wirral Globe, York Press. Newcastle Star

17-11-11  POWA responded to a letter from James Barrington, 'Animal welfare consultant' to the CA, arguing that hunting wth hounds is 'natural' and 'humane' and the Hunting Act should be repealed:-
Mr. Barrington knows there is nothing remotely 'natural' or 'humane' about the hunting of live quarry with hounds. It saddens me to see a man I once worked with and admired debasing himself by spouting Hunt propaganda, presumably for reward. Recently, a Judge spoke of the 'cynical subterfuge' Fernie fox hunt employees used trying to disguise their crimes. But everyone should know that both the conduct and defence of hunting with dogs nowadays rests almost wholly on 'cynical subterfuge'.

These 'sports' are designed to maximise the length of the chase -  up to 90 minutes for fox and hare hunting, 7 hours for deer - using slow but high-stamina dogs. How 'natural' or 'humane' is that? And yet – cynical subterfuge – fox hunting is presented almost as a kindly euthanasia society for 'old and sick' foxes.

As a monitor, I have witnessed Hunts of such enormous lengths; seen the desperate attempts of the victims to escape the baying hounds; seen their pitiful descents into utter exhaustion; seen the hideous, bloody, sometimes screaming, finale as they are finally caught. How 'natural' or 'humane' is that?

I have seen foxes and hares struggling to escape while being ripped at randomly by the lead dogs, until they are overwhelmed and die of blood loss or shock due to disembowelling through multiple bites. How 'natural' or 'humane' is that?

I have often seen a stag or a hind, perhaps earlier brutally separated an at-foot calf, unable to run further, turning to face the hounds, flanks heaving and steaming, legs trembling, eyes rolling, until the Huntsman strides up and blasts it into merciful oblivion with, if it's lucky, a single shot. How 'natural' or 'humane' is that?

I've also witnessed the stop-at-nothing fanaticism of hunters and the nauseating and deeply disturbing glee exhibited by riders or followers 'lucky' enough to be in at the kill. Watched them wait at a 'dig out' of a fox, whilst the terrier conducts fights with the victim, seen their excitement as the brutish terrierman reaches the hapless, hiding fox, yanks it out by its scruff and, if it's lucky - shoots it dead. How 'natural' or 'humane' is that?

I've watched as supporters rush to the scene of a deer kill, even carrying tiny children, to witness it's bloody dismembering and the handing out of body parts as 'trophies'. Such sickening behaviour may be 'natural' to the brutish and perverted followers of these 'sports', who clearly delight in their victims' suffering and death, but it is anything but 'natural' to normal people - and to link such behaviour to the word 'humane' is itself perverse.

But Mr.Barrington is right saying the Hunting Act [which another traitor,Tony Blair, has confessed to having 'sabotaged'] isn't working properly. It’s failing partly because of lack of enforcement, partly because of Hunts’ ruthless and ‘cynical subterfuge’, but mostly because of the Act's lax wording and numerous loopholes. Hunts can carry on much as before, with little fear of investigation, let alone prosecution. Pretending to be 'trail hunting', many still chase  quarry for fun, still endanger their own animals and the public by charging on to roads and railways, still menace and savage livestock and pets - and one or more of their gang members is usually ready to assault or intimidate anyone trying to stop or expose them.

Barrington and his paymasters, and the Prime Minister and his hunting cronies are, knowingly or not, conniving in what the League Against Cruel Sports has described as a 'national criminal conspiracy' to ignore the Act and flout the rule of law. They want to remove even what little protection wild animals now have from being hunted for 'sport'. But the vast majority of people - urban and rural - still want these cruel and barbaric sports properly banned. When criminals circumvent the law, it must be strengthened to stop them not repealed to reward them.

yours faithfully, Alan Kirby, Associate. Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA]

The letter has, so far, been published almost in full in the St.Ives Times & Echo and in edited form by the Western Daily Press and the Derby Telegraph

29-9-11  POWA responded to news that the Government had approved an NVQ component on hunting kennels with a Round Robin press letter:-

Though better training for workers dealing with animals is usually welcome,  the Government-approved new element of an NVQ in 'Animal Care' that is 'relevant to working in Hunt kennels' seems a grotesque and hypocritical contradiction in terms.  Hunt kennels are centres at which packs of dogs are trained to terrorise and kill defenceless wild animals for the amusement of their followers. It's an open secret that many Hunts continue to do this by shamelessly exploiting the weaknesses, loopholes and lax enforcement of the Hunting Act.  Is this 'Animal Care'? Then there are the pets and livestock regularly chased, mauled or killed by out-of-control Hunt hounds, and the frequency with which put their own dogs [and the public] at risk by allowing them to run on to roads, railways and other hazards, sometimes resulting in injury and/or death.  Is this 'Animal Care'?
 Hunt Kennels habitually and ruthlessly dispose of the hounds they so purport to 'love' - mostly with a bullet in the head - when they are deemed old to hunt [at about half their natural life span]; and younger hounds face the same risk if judged sub-standard. Protect Our Wild Animals, using hunter-provided data, calculates that Hunts probably 'cull' over 9,000 hounds annually. Indeed, if the Act has reduced the number of wild animals they're able to slaughter for fun, the largest victim group of Hunts could well now be their own dogs.  Is this 'Animal Care'? No amount of NVQ certificates will paper over the inherent cruelty of Hunts and hunters. We need the Act to be strengthened to properly arrest their awful abuses of both wild and domestic animals, not repealed to reward their ruthless rapacity. 

This letter was published in:-  the Western Daily Press, the South Wales Echo, the York Press, the Bristol Ev. Post, the Western Mail, Tribune, the Shepton Mallet Journal and the Derby Telegraph 

1-9-11   POWA responded to vitriolic and largely mendacious hunt supporter comments and letters following Ann Widdecombe's praise of hunt monitors in her Daily Express column the day before.
To:- Daily Express, 1-9-11

I write to rebut the calumnies from hunt supporters heaped upon Monitors in comments & letters to the Express, following Ann Widdecombe's piece [31-8] rightly praising them.

It is an open secret that the Hunting Act is widely flouted and its loopholes ruthlessly exploited by gangs of bloodsport fanatics called 'Hunts', with our hard-pressed police unable, or in some cases apparently unwilling, to act against them. The latter can surely not be connected to the facts that the Policing Minister is a former Countryside Alliance official who was Master of a hare-hunting pack for many years, and that the Prime Minister has fox-hunted, remains very close to that fraternity and promised, as his first policy commitment as Party Leader, to repeal the, highly popular, Hunting Act that affronts his friends.

So, Monitors go out, at great personal inconvenience, cost and risk, to try to catalogue Hunts' continuing abuse of the letter and spirit of the law, and of both their mammal victims and of the dogs and horses they exploit as tools to engage in their foul fun. There are many instances of hunters' aggression and abuse posted on YouTube. Unlike sabs, whose aim is to protect the quarry, Monitors do not interfere with Hunts' activities, but they still meet with routine obstruction, abuse, threats and violence. It is unsurprising that those who gain pleasure from pursuing and slaughtering living creatures readily display great aggression towards people seeking to expose their wrongdoing or protect their animal victims. Or that they barrage the public with utter falsehoods - unbacked by documentary evidence - about their own 'sport' and the behaviour of the valiant few who stand against them.

I have catalogued data on the criminal transgressions of hunters and supporters for 20 years. Though only a fraction of the, often unprovable, offences reported as committed by them, and not covering the havoc they frequently wreak, I have just short of 300 separate hunters and supporters recorded as receiving criminal sanctions, mostly for offences against Monitors and sabs, involving over 400 offences. These include Masters [46], Huntsmen [37], other Hunt staff [63], riders and followers.

The list includes 162 offences involving violence by hunters [some very serious], 51 against monitors, 73 against sabs; 39 of Criminal Damage, mostly of equipment and vehicles belonging to 'antis'; and, 45 Public Order offences, mostly threatening/abusive behaviour. 10 from these categories are offences involving the Heythrop, the favourite Hunt of Mr.Cameron and his mates in the 'Chipping Norton Set'. As far as I know, no Monitor has ever been found guilty of such behaviour towards hunters.

The Hunting Act needs to be strengthened to really stop this barbaric 'sport', not repealed.

yours faithfully, Alan Kirby, M.Sc, Associate of Protect Our Wild Animals [POWA]

7-7-11  POWA responded to an article in the Lancs Telegraph with this letter:- 

It is good that E.Lancs police found it helpful to at last deploy the 6 year old Hunting Act, by bringing a pair of lowlife wild animal abusers to justice [Telegraph, 5-7]. However,  such 'poaching'  was already illegal, and often prosecuted, before 2005.

The Hunting Act was primarily designed [by public demand] to address the blatant, systematised, barbaric and mass cruelty of organised Hunts and Hare Coursing events [e.g.the appalling Waterloo Cup].

While the Act eliminated the latter horror by an absolute ban, it has proved very much less effective against hunting with hounds. Many Hunts have ruthlessly exploited its weaknesses - and subsequent lack of effort against them by the police - to flout the spirit and letter of the law, knowing it is very unlikely they'll even be investigated. The obvious solution is to strengthen the Act  - not to repeal it as Cameron has promised to do, as a favour for his bloodsports-loving friends.

Maybe then Forces would at least try to enforce the Act against Hunts, instead of largely leaving it a handful of poorly-resourced and vulnerable volunteer monitors.  

Maybe... but police attitudes to wildlife abuse seem typified by the police Wildlife Officer quoted in your article, who, I imagine honestly, thinks they are  'working tirelessly to protect Lancashire's wildlife' by co-operating closely with serial wildlife abusers and killers like BASC and gamekeepers.

It seems police, prosecutors and legislators all still need to be educated in the need to apply the same zeal to the abuse of animals by the well-heeled and influential as they do to underclass louts who infringe their 'property' interests.

Or shall we be stuck for ever singing the old refrain 'It's the rich wot gets the pleasure, it's the poor wot gets the blame', while the continuing victims of unpoliced Hunts thrash and scream as the hounds grasp them in their jaws ?

yours faithfully,                   Alan Kirby, Protect Our Wild Animals


24-6-11  POWA sent the following to national, regional and city daily papers in England & Wales:-

The media seem baffled as to why the Government were so determined not to concede a ban on wild animals in circuses. Have they really not noticed that Cameron's Conservatives [with some honourable exceptions] are still very much the 'nasty party' when it comes to animal abuse?
Though wisely keeping quiet about it now, the PM is still passionate about restoring the 'right' of his pals to harry and kill wild mammals for fun, by repealing the Hunting Act at some point. Not only is the bloodsports lobby an inner-core Tory constituency, but the Party is in serious hock to it for mountainous donations and electoral aid.
If No.10 is really willing to 'bribe' and 'threaten' MPs over the relatively minor issue of a few dozen circus animals, to what lengths will they go [are they going] to further their perverse but totemic desire to restore the barbarity of unbridled hunting with hounds?
Yours faithfully,                 Alan Kirby,   Protect Our Wild Animals   [POWA]
To our knowledge, letter published in:- Western Mail, Eastern Daily Press, Coventry Ev. Telegraph, Tribune

[Earlier POWA Press letters yet to be uploaded]

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