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Chocolate box hunting sham

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 31, 2012

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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

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  • Hareymary  |  January 02 2013, 5:45PM

    Why, indeed, shouldn't the RSPCA have prosecuted the Heythrop Hunt? Monitors and saboteurs have been witnessing and filming evidence of criminal activities by hunts all over the country since the passing of the Hunting Act into law in 2005. In other words, they have been regularly breaking the law for the past eight years. So why hasn't there been any prosecution of these illegal activities? The reason is very simple; it's because the police have always, so far, decided not to ask the Crown Prosecution Service to take action on any of the evidence put before them. We can only speculate on why that should have been the case, and I for one certainly do. The only remaining option is for someone to prosecute in a private capacity; something no saboteur group could possibly even dream of affording and a fact that has been indisputably proved by the costs incurred by the RSPCA in its pursuit of justice in this case. There is something distressingly, and badly, wrong when a privileged group of people can continue to break the law for eight years without being brought to justice. Until this case was successfully prosecuted, the hunts were routinely complaining that the Act wasn't working. They could only claim this because no hunt had been taken to court. The hunts believed that they were above the law and, happily for justice, the RSPCA has made it impossible for them to claim that any more. The Heythrop Hunt was found guilty and sentenced as criminals. This judgement proves them wrong and it shows them that, friends in high places notwithstanding, they are not above the law. The reason why the costs of this prosecution were so enormous is because .. a) the RSPCA's legal team was appointed with the intention of giving parity with the defence, who ordinarily engage a QC, as they did in this case, so that the prosecution is thorough and fair; .. and b) the two men and the hunt involved, entered a plea of 'not guilty' until the very last minute, ensuring that the RSPCA's legal team had to trawl through many expensive hours of footage to find the best evidence on record to prove that they were guilty as charged. At the very last minute, the defendants changed their plea to 'guilty''. Dirty tricks? Oh, yes indeed! The RSPCA had incurred a great deal of unnecessary expense because of this unprincipled, unscrupulous and despicable tactic. This case cannot be judged on its face value; it is a landmark victory against a privileged few who thought they were untouchable. Some people may not like it but it's a fact: It was money well-spent and well within the RSPCA's remit. The judge's comments and his awarding of such ludicrously inadequate costs didn't help either and were shamefully biased and he should be severely reprimanded for this.

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  • loftylady  |  January 02 2013, 12:50PM

    Thank you Alan Kirby _ at last a common sense view of hunts and the thuggery many of them resort to in pursuit of their quarry (if it was legal drag/trail hunting why do they need to cover up their activities?). The hunts in Devon are (alledgedly) amongst the worst offenders in the country and some hunt sabs are wary of even venturing there due to their (alledged) intimidation, aggression and violence. Well done and thank you Alan, but please, if you live amongst the Devonian wildlife terrorists watch your back!

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  • Sowester  |  January 02 2013, 11:48AM

    Who's hunting who?

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  • Kindanimal  |  January 02 2013, 10:52AM

    Brilliant news about the Heythrop Hunt prosecution. Illegal hunting is going on all the time encouraged by the Countryside Alliance whose vow to keep hunting was signed by 40,000 or so pro hunters. Just who do these people think they are for heaven's sake? The Hunting Act was brought in 7 years ago, and still many hunts are deliberately flouting the rule of law because they believe they are above it.Get'em all is what I say and tighten all the so-called exemptions which is allowing these criminals to get away with it. I have already increased my annual sub and sent off a substantial donation. Well done to the RSPCA and all praise to the abused POWA monitors that spent many many hours filming the Heythrop's illegal hunting. Great work - keep it up.

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  • Jennypenny  |  January 02 2013, 7:51AM

    No fool Charles, I'm well aware the RSPCA aren't perfect, but who else do we have to bring the wildlife criminals, that believe they are above the law, to justice? More of these evil brutes hunting illegally are being brought before the courts in the New Year. The RSPCA have recently successfully brought a prosecution against some repugnant badger baiters , funny the tory press haven't mentioned them spending funds on this? hmm No, we need the RSPCA more than ever, so full marks to them. If they continue in this vein my money will be well spent ;)

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  • CharlesBashir  |  January 01 2013, 11:37PM

    Oh dear JennyPenny, just the sort of gullible fool the RSPCA are hoping for with their nice high profile politically motivated PR job. A fool and their money are easily parted ;) If you are serious about alleviating animal cruelty, there are charities that are more motivated to fulfilling their remit than the RSPCA. If you like wasting your money then RSPCA all the way :,

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  • Jennypenny  |  January 01 2013, 11:16PM

    What a refreshing change to see a journalist speak the truth about these vile animal abusing criminals! Since the Hunt prosecution the RSPCA have been victims of a smear campaign by bias pro hunt media the Countryside Alliance and their hangers on. Well the RSPCA have gone waaaaay up in my esteem. I don't want these wildlife abusers getting away with terrorising defenceless animals!, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and start a monthly donation to the RSPCA.

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  • CharlesBashir  |  January 01 2013, 9:50PM

    Oh how surprising another editorially biased anti hunting story on This is Devon. What a refreshing change. Why doesn't someone in the office therehavethe balls to write a balanced article? Spineless, subservients who are so desperate to get some form of circulation for their rag, that they would never dare to step foot outside the safe bounds of populist journalism (is this really journalism?)

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  • fischadler  |  January 01 2013, 8:40PM

    Great article at last exposing what actually goes at these lawbreaking hunts from people who think they are above the law. RSPCA and the hunt monitors should be praised for doing the job that the police are supposed to do to combat wildlife crime. The act needs strengthening and the sentences increased to custodial terms for these lowlifes who still indulge in this so called 'sport'.

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  • MarkSurrey  |  January 01 2013, 7:39PM

    Well done Alan Kirby for writing this honest account of the sociopathic hunters that deliberately break the law. They think just because the out of touch David Cameron and arrogant ******** Environment secretary Owen Patterson support them they can literally get away with murder. Well they've been shown they cant.

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