The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has launched another private prosecution based on video evidence, this time against the Quantock Staghounds.
Huntsman Richard Down and amateur whipper-in Adrian Pillivant were summonsed last week in connection with an incident on 16 February. A preliminary hearing is set for 21 September at Taunton magistrates’ court .
“We don’t even know what we’re accused of yet — our solicitor is looking into it,” said Quantock chairman Nick Gibbons. “We’re very concerned, but we’ll fight it tooth and nail. Adrian and Richard have our full support.”
LACS submitted a video to Avon and Somerset police just weeks ago. Officers interviewed Quantock joint-master Enid Baker, but found there was no case to answer.
“The case LACS is bringing is not the same one it submitted to us,” said local hunt liaison officer Supt Adrian Coombs. “The case it presented to us involved a master, but this one involves hunt staff.”
This is the second prosecution of a hunt using video evidence. Tony Wright was last month convicted of illegal hunting with the Exmoor Foxhounds and is to appeal.
Afterwards, Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart slammed monitors for harassing law-abiding hunts and called for an immediate review of hunting’s “gentlemanly” attitude to them.
Hunting without harassment
Hunting without harassment, an updated version of the Council of Hunting Association (CHA) and CA’s Hunting Handbook, is released this week. It covers laws on trespass, rights of way and filming — offering step-by-step advice on dealing with monitors.
“People are entitled to monitor hunt activities but must remain within the law. They have no more right to film lawful activity on private property than anyone else,” said Mr Hart. “The law itself isn’t clear yet, so if we can help hunts find ways of operating within the law without someone wearing a balaclava with a video camera stuck in a child’s face, then we will. I’ve explained our position to the police and they understand fully.”
Mr Hart said the CA and the CHA are continuing to look at a “more professional approach” to ensure hunts are not “plagued by vigilantes posing as hunt monitors”.
He added: “All the key protagonists in recent animal rights incidents were regular hunt sabs. They are deeply unpleasant, vindictive and aggressive people.”
The handbook advises on record keeping and will be distributed to hunts. It backs up information relayed to hunts in conference calls during August by the Masters of Foxhounds Association.
“The injustice of the Exmoor case has alarmed people considerably. Hunts are now logging their activities,” said CHA chairman Stephen Lambert. “The Quantock incident redoubles everyone’s determination to continue their legal activities and to make sure harassment doesn’t curtail us.”