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Heythrop Hunt

New page under construction, but let's start with.....



The first four videos, of several laid in evidence in the prosecution of the Hunt, were shown in Court on December 17th. The fifth shows the lead-up to the kill at Peasewell Wood :-
Kill at Peasewell Wood, monitor assaulted by hunt whipper-in 
Fox chased at Bourton-on-the-Water  
Fox chased at Church Westcote 
Fox chased after meet at Frogmore House  
Lead-up to the kill at Peasewell Wood  

Some of the numerous videos of various suspicious and/or assaultive, abusive, obstructive behaviour by Heythrop riders and followers uploaded to YouTube over the last few years:- 
Date posted           Summary of contents                                           URL

Dec 2006  Supporter attacks female monitor [cautioned] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CXCnQ_jQYc
Apr 2009
  Pre/post-ban hunting - spot the difference?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaGeVTBwXeM
Jan 2010
  Suspicious hunting activity [3 examples]  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni1GSxdZG4c 
Jan 2010  Threats,abuse incl. from Heythrop Huntsman  http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=fCb6UhJLRes
Feb 2010  Monitors obstructed & abused by supporters   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DWatf8Dudo
Feb 2010
  Monitor abused, etc. by supporters, rider  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIBLu6fmN-U
Supporter attempts to puncture monitor's tyre [convicted]
Hounds catch and kill fox in roadside ditch - supporters attack and surround monitor's car, imprisoning her
Monitor prevented from driving away on public road
Monitor returns to car to find rear tyres slashed
Feb 2010  More foxes chased by Heythrop hounds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u7z15WLg9o 
Abuse from female rider
Mar 2010  Threats, abuse from riders, incl Heythrop  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60wi3W0HnUE 
More foxes being chased by hounds, incl the Heythrop's
Oct 2010 Monitor car blocked in, hounds on cry http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=meXZAotDfMA 
Same monitor harassed, obstructed and abused by riders, supporter
Few days later, rider subjects monitor to vile abuse, twice
Mar 2011 More suspicious activity, er.., 'trail hunting'  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmZe24MHdWY 
Threat and abuse from hunt supporter, watched by ex J.Master
Riders twice obstruct monitor's passage along road
Hounds, with rider, running all over road in poor weather
Feb 2012  Very abusive & racist language from supporter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TSvb34bHak 
Dec 2012  3 more foxes chased by Heythrop hounds  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeOCUzcYFsE 
Dec 2012  Heythrop hunting across, riders on busy A44  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5l4cZPbrI0 
Hounds hunting along an active railway line
Ex Hunt Master harassing monitor as she tries to film fleeing fox

Season   Offender             Status           Offence              Victim[s]                Sanction
2005/6  Mr. Belcher          Supporter   Criminal damage      Monitor                Cautioned
2005/6  Unnamed man     Supporter   Criminal damage   Female monitor       Cautioned
2006/7 Tony Greaves       Supporter    Common Assault   Female monitor       Cautioned
[Film of this vicious assault on a 60 year old woman is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CXCnQ_jQYc ]
2006/7 Unnamed woman  Supporter  Att. Criminal damage  Female monitor    Cautioned
[Offender placed nail concealed in Mars bar underneath monitor's car tyre. Same monitor has had car tyres slashed a few times while monitoring]
2008/9  John Deutsch       Rider           Affray                 2 female monitors    Fined £350
2008/9  Otis Ferry     Guest rider  Cause fear,stress,upset  2 female monitors  Fined £350
[Ferry spent 4 months on remand after charged with att. Pervert course of justice re. this incident. CPS eventually dropped charge]
2008/9 Dennis Lough-Scott  Supporter    Battery            Female monitor         C.Discharge, 2 years
[The same man was fined for ABH against an anti-hunt protester in 1991]
2010/11  James Frogatt  Supporter   Obstruct highway    Female monitors       £80 FP fine
2010/11  Mark Heritage  Supporter   S5 Public Order Act   2 female monitors   Cautioned/Fined?
2010/11  Gary Morgan    Terrierman S5 Public Order Act   2 female monitors   Cautioned/Fined?
[Victims say +10 hunt supporters also committed the offences,, but only these 2 were dealt with by police]
2010/11  'Slick'            Supporter    S5 Public Order Act   2 female monitors    Cautioned
2010/11 Mick Jones     Supporter     S5 Public Order Act   2 female monitors    Cautioned
2010/11 Mick Jones     Supporter  'Anti-social' use of car  Female monitors      S59 warning & notice
[Monitor driver says Jones chased her for several miles, tried to drive her off road and personally menaced her]2010/11  Sara Hanks   Supporter        Assault                Female monitor         Cautioned
[Hanks punched  monitor in face in what victim says was unprovoked attack. At Dean - near where PM lives]
2012/13 Thomas MacFarlane Rider  Criminal.Damage     Female monitor  Fined £110 + £106 compo
[MacFarlane slashed monitor's car tyre. He is believed to live with the Marchioness of Blandford, former wife of the heir to Blenheim Palace]

This was written in response to a scurrilous article about the Heythrop trial in the Western Morning News on 19-12-12, by Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance:-

Tim Bonner's attack on the RSPCA for having the temerity to prosecute the high-and-mighty Heythrop Hunt for numerous, flagrant breaches of the Hunting Act gives, as one might expect from this fervently pro-hunt apologist, a highly distorted impression of the facts and the reasons why this prosecution was brought by the Society.
The Heythrop are just one of several Hunts in the area covered by the group of volunteer monitors who captured the numerous pieces of film that forced the Hunt to plead guilty to as few charges as they thought they could get away with. But, though the monitors will say that all of them appear to engage in illegal hunting of foxes, the Heythrop is by some way the most blatant. Since they were providing the strongest evidence, it was natural for the monitors to concentrate on them.
Over the past few years monitors have passed similar evidence to the police no fewer than thirty times against the Heythrop and other Hunts to that which this time led the Heythrop to plead guilty. Every time but one they were fobbed off. On that occasion, the CPS accepted that there was adequate evidence to charge Julian Barnfield, the Heythrop huntsman, with four separate counts of illegal hunting. Other Hunt members could also have been charged - anyone who 'engages or participates' in illegal hunting is guilty - but in those days it was usual just to charge the one or two persons most obviously in charge of the hounds.
As seems to be commonplace when hunters are charged with anything, the trial was delayed. Then the Exmoor FH Huntsman, Tony Wright, appealed against his earlier conviction and the CPS postponed Barnfield's cases pending its outcome. When the Judge, early in 2009, allowed Wright's appeal, he also made a number of rulings on the interpretation of the Act that were favourable to the Hunt side, making it even easier than ever for Hunts to exploit the lax wording and numerous loopholes of the Act. Not only did the CPS feebly decide not to appeal against these rulings - many of which clearly contradicted what the framers of the Act intended - but they also used it as an excuse to drop all their pending cases against organised Hunts, including Barnfield's charges. Rather than 'failing', as Bonner would have it, monitors would assert that these charges were speciously dropped, probably for political reasons. It might also be noted that we have evidence to show that David Cameron intervened in the case on Barnfield's behalf - though this would surely not have influenced the CPS decision.
The monitors obtained more footage of what they were convinced was illegal hunting by the Heythrop, evidence that should be good enough to convict, in the 2010/11 hunting season. Having by now lost all faith in the police/CPS ability or willingness to prosecute, they turned to the RSPCA. The Society's lawyers examined all the evidence and agreed that it was strong enough to sustain two charges against the Huntsman. It is part of the role of the Society to prosecute all and any cases of cruelty to animals where the evidence warrants - and they save the State a huge amount by taking on this role.
Again, the case was long delayed and by that time the RSPCA had been presented with a much larger file of even stronger evidence against the Heythrop, based on monitoring in the 2011/12 season, which their lawyers advised should be taken on. So, the two 2010/11 charges against Barnfield did not 'fail', it was simply that the RSPCA made a pragmatic decision not to pursue them because of the much larger case now pending against him and the Heythrop. I understand they remain 'on file'.
Coming to the recent case, there were 45 charges taken into court against the Heythrop Hunt itself and four of its senior members, based on no fewer than 10 separate instances across the 2011/12 season.  The Heythrop vehemently denied all the charges until, late in the day, they announced they would plead guilty to 12 of them. This was clearly a pre-meditated strategy, since it would have been obvious to them when they saw the filmed evidence, in the Spring, that their goose was cooked. By maintaining their 'not guilty' pleas for so long, however, they were able to avoid themselves having to rack up mountainous legal fees for the preparation of cases they actually had no intention of defending, while forcing the RSPCA into doing just that, adding to costs already quite high because of the meticulous examination of hundreds of hours of monitor footage and numerous statements necessary, not to mention the expense of disclosing all this evidence to the defence. And by agreeing to plead guilty to 12 charges, the Heythrop effectively forced the RSPCA into not proceeding with the rest.    One effect, highly desirable and 'political' to the Hunt, was that Vanessa Lambert, a Joint Master, and daughter of the Chairman of the Master of Fox Hunts Association, escaped without having to plead to or defend the several charges against her. Monitors will assert that the evidence in all the dropped cases was so powerful that convictions would probably have resulted.
I concede that all this was a very clever stratagem on the Hunt's part, but most people would surely not think it very ethical, and even less so to then castigate the RSPCA for engaging in expenditure, much of which they themselves had essentially tricked or forced them into. No surprise there, though.
As to the RSPCA employing high-charging external lawyers, anyone seeking to prosecute Hunts is effectively forced into doing this, because they know that the Hunt side will use the best money can by, backed as they usually are by the bottomless pockets of the Countryside Alliance, an organisation which, it seems, carelessly squandered millions in various always-doomed attempts to have the Hunting Act declared invalid. In this case, the Hunt itself could doubtless have called upon the largesse of their many multi-millionaire members and donors - had they thought they stood any real prospect of successfully defending the charges.
There is no doubt at all that Hunts up and down the country employ various ruses and exploit various loopholes to continue hunting live quarry much as they did before the ban, and bamboozle police forces into not acting against them, though the latter are usually reluctant to get involved anyway. The Heythrop case is by far from the first where the Hunts' contention that they were 'trail hunting', and just suffered occasional 'accidents', has been exposed as a sham.
The difference in the previous cases - the Fernie in 2011 and the Crawley & Horsham and the Meynell this year - was that the presiding judges saw through their flimsy pretences and condemned the evidence they gave in that respect as the 'cynical subterfuge' that it was.  Here, however, Judge Pattinson barely criticised the self-confessed offenders at all, and made his pro-hunt sympathies evident to everyone by criticising the Society and questioning the Act itself, neither of which were really within his remit. Numerous complaints about his remarks have already been submitted to the appropriate authority.
Nor did he seek, as one would expect a judge to do in such circumstances, to praise the immense dedication and courage necessary on the part of the volunteer monitors in collecting the huge volume of powerful evidence that showed conclusively that one of the most prestigious Hunts in the country had not just been repeatedly and blatantly engaging in the illegal hunting of foxes, but also lying about it.
Monitors not only have to devote a huge amount of time and expense into doing the police's work for them, but, always hugely outnumbered, they have to bear repeated assaults, threats, harassment, obstruction, vile abuse and property damage from thuggish hunt followers and riders alike. No fewer than 14 Heythrop supporters have been convicted or cautioned for such offences in the last 6 years. A small mountain of evidence of all this, and of the Heythrop's recent criminal and past, suspicious, hunting activity, can be accessed on the website of Protect Our Wild Animals http://www.powa.org.uk/ . One would have expected the Judge and the media to laud and heroise them, but no, the Hunts can do apparently do no wrong in their eyes.
The long overdue Hunting Act was passed with overwhelming public support, and repeated polls over decades had showed large majorities for a ban obtained in all areas, classes and categories of the population, including rural dwellers. They expect the law prohibiting the chasing and killing of wild mammals for 'sport' to be upheld. The bulk of the tiny, but highly vocal, rich and powerful hunting minority, however, made no secret of their intent to disregard the law and continue their vile and vicious pastimes, much as they now seek to pretend they are 'hunting within the law'.
In the reporting of the Boxing Day Hunts we shall doubtless once again be treated to the usual nauseating coverage of the meets, the 'chocolate box' portrayal of gangs whose one real intent and desire is to go out into the countryside to terrorise and slaughter wildlife for fun. Their accounts of numbers 'supporting' them will be reprinted without question, their assertions that they do nothing but innocently 'trail hunt' taken at face value, despite the ever growing evidence that it is all a massive fraud.
Somebody has to stand up for truth, justice and the rule of law in the hunting field, somebody has to defend the defenceless. The police will rarely do it, the CPS will rarely do it - and as for the media - don't make me laugh. Thank goodness, then for the monitors, and the RSPCA. I close with a quote from Gavin Grant, their forthright CEO, who has refused to be browbeaten by the vitriol poured upon himself and his organisation by a panicked and affronted hunting lobby - 'This was deliberate, repeated, intentional abuse of animals in breach of the law. That's what it was and that's what they were convicted of. These people are wildlife criminals.'

Alan Kirby, Protect Our Wild Animals  

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