A master of foxhounds from Durham is to launch a complaint against police after being found not guilty of assaulting two saboteurs.

South Durham joint-master Gary Watchman has accused police of victimisation after spending nearly a year fighting to clear his name over an incident about which saboteurs lied.

“I can’t sit back — I have to make a stand,” said Mr Watchman, who was arrested in March 2009 after voluntarily attending Spennymore police station in connection with an incident on 28 February.

On 14 December, Bishop Auckland Magistrates Court found Mr Watchman not guilty after saboteurs Lynne Edwards and Hazel Greaves admitted lying that he had threatened them with a knife.

Hoping to film the hunt acting illegally, the women had dressed in camouflage and hidden in bushes on the Castle Eden walkway in Durham on 28 February. On that day, H&H was out reporting on the hunt.

The court heard how Mr Watchman asked the saboteurs to leave what he believed to be private land. When they refused, Edwards and Greaves said Mr Watchmen whipped them with his hunting whip, shoulder barged them to the floor and tried to take their bags and camcorders. They captured the whole incident on tape.

Mr Watchman’s solicitor Stephen Welford said: “This video was played to the court, and Edwards could be heard on tape to shout ‘put that knife away, you bastard’ towards Watchman, when he could clearly be seen on film without such a weapon.

• For more on this story, see this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (31 December).