The Council of Hunting Associations (CHA) is warning hunt supporters and staff to “keep their cool” after Anthony Allibone, huntsman of the Dulverton Farmers, was last week found guilty of assaulting a hunt monitor for the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).
In the same week, a Heythrop supporter was cautioned for puncturing the tyre of a car belonging to a hunt monitor, and last week a steward with the Cotley was fined for threatening two monitors.
“We firmly discourage hunt officials, members of the field or supporters from getting involved in arguments with monitors, even when monitors are trying to harass and are trespassing,” said CHA chairman Stephen Lambert.
On Friday, 9 February, Mr Allibone, 49, pleaded not guilty at Minehead Magistrates’ Court to using intimidating behaviour against Yvonne Nicola, 66.
The court heard how, on 15 March 2006, Ms Nicola went with two other hunt monitors to watch the Dulverton Farmers at Clayford on Exmoor. They stood on a public right of way with video cameras and waited for the hunt.
A video taken by the monitors and played in court last week showed the hunt entering the farm track and Mr Allibone riding close to Ms Nicola, before reprimanding his horse.
Rebecca Bradberry, defending, said Ms Nicola provoked the incident by waving her arms and touching the horse. Mr Allibone denied trying to intimidate.
He told the court: “I shouted at her to stop waving her arms, but you can’t get a horse to go back so easily.”
The huntsman was found guilty of assault by putting the victim in fear of immediate and unlawful violence.
In sentencing, magistrate Clive Powell said: “You over-reacted in your words and actions, and the tone you used, and in the control of your horse. LACS and hunts have to co-exist with each other and where they do come across each other, it is a matter for both sides to maintain good conduct.”
Mr Allibone was ordered to pay £400 — a fine, costs and compensation.
Afterwards, he told H&H: “We have to keep our cool, but it’s difficult. We mustn’t let monitors get the better of us.”