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 it's a massive fraud.
The recent Heythrop convictions – when 12 charges of illegal hunting were admitted – are far from the first in which the contention that hunts 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 cases – the Fernie in 2011, the Crawley and 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, and people expect the law against the cruel chasing and killing of wild mammals for 'sport' to be upheld. The tiny, but highly vocal, rich, and powerful hunting minority, 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. Thank goodness for the monitors and the RSPCA. What Gavin Grant, their chief executive, said, applies to many hunts: "This was deliberate, repeated, intentional abuse of animals. These people are wildlife criminals."
ALAN KIRBY Protect Our Wild Animals