The Plas Machynlleth foxhounds are back in action after an inquiry by the Federation of Welsh Packs (FWP) into the League Against Cruel Sports’ (LACS) “barbarity” claims, decided they were unfounded.

League “investigators” infiltrated the Plas Machynlleth Foxhounds in February, and edited footage of foxhunting in upland Wales was released early last week. The league claimed that the footage showed “the barbarity of hunting in Wales – from the inside”.

The inquiry’s committee viewed the edited footage, which LACS released to the media last week, and questioned hunt officials.

Spokesman for the FWP, David Thomas, says: “Of course we had to deal with claims made by the League on the basis of their evidence, but it was also important for us to establish that the foot pack hadn’t breached the rules and regulations of the federation.”

The league’s claims based on their video material included:

  • A pair of hounds fighting a fox, completely unable to kill it by the oft-claimed ‘nip to the back of the neck’
  • A fox screaming while trapped by terriers below ground
  • Terriers encouraged to attack a fox trapped below ground
  • Terriers encouraged to savage the dead fox before it is thrown to the waiting hounds

At the inquiry, the committee concluded the claims to be unfounded. They underlined that the league had admitted, in a comment to HHO, that they had prolonged the suffering of the fox in question through their own intervention, preventing the quick ‘nip to the back of the neck’.

Similarly, LACS’ suggestions of “organised and prolonged attacks on foxes using terriers” were dismissed by the committee. There was also no evidence of a fox “screaming”. The committee were satisfied that all the foxes in the footage were humanely dispatched with licensed firearms.

David Thomas says: “We are delighted that the committee has recommended the immediate lifting of the suspension, which shows that this was nothing more than a propaganda exercise carried out by the opponents of hunting. A full transcript of the hearing will now be forwarded to [the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting (ISAH)].”

The ISAH will review all the evidence, including an executive summary, the chairman’s report and evidence submitted at the hearing. They will then decide whether the matter was adequately and fairly dealt with by the FWP.

Adrian Simpson, Welsh director of the Countryside Alliance, expressed his confidence in the result of the hearing, saying that he was “utterly convinced that the committee came to a just and honest conclusion”.

“It is disappointing that opponents of hunting seem less interested in animal welfare than in headline grabbing propaganda,” he concludes.

The LACS declined an invitation to attend the inquiry on Sunday, which it dismissed as “bogus” and a “foregone conclusion”. Earlier in the week, a league representative had been unable to point to evidence supporting LACS’ claims when representatives from the Countryside Alliance and the FWP viewed the unedited footage with a LACS official and a journalist.