Countryside Alliance rebuffs critics

  • The Countryside Alliance has insisted that it is providing strong leadership and doing its utmost to overturn the hunting ban, in response to a leaked letter demanding “clearer leadership”.

    The Sunday Telegraph published extracts of the letter, from Tory peer and Old Berkshire hunt chairman Viscount Astor to alliance chairman John Jackson, last week. It also urged the CA to explain what civil disobedience entails.

    “The letter was not intended to be divisive,” Viscount Astor told Horse & Hound. “It was more that the CA was not being as clear in its message as it might be.

    “Civil disobedience can be entirely legal. My letter said the alliance should articulate this so that people understand what civil disobedience means. A lot of people want to do things but don’t know what to do.”

    John Jackson was not available for comment, having gone abroad for a month, but alliance spokesman Tim Bonner says: “The alliance is not backing down — and we will be active in testing and ridiculing this legislation. I hope people feel they’re getting enough guidance. We can’t be accused of not having warned people that this was coming.”

    Despite widespread media coverage of a planned “mass day of rebellion” on 19 February, there is a growing sense that the exact nature of the legal “hunting activity” planned needs to be established soon.

    With this in mind, the Council of Hunting Associations and Countryside Alliance have collaborated on a 50-page Hunting Handbook, which is being produced and distributed by the CA.

    “It encompasses everything from draft landowner agreements to an analysis of everything hunts can and can’t do under the legislation,” says CA chief executive Simon Hart.

    The handbook will be distributed to hunts shortly and will also be available soon on the CA website.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (16 December, ’04)

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