Ex-Mirror journalist brands hunt ban “stupid”

  • David Seymour “parted company” with the Mirror Group last Friday after 12 years as political editor. On Saturday, he went hunting for the first time with the North Cotswold in protest at the Daily Mirror’s anti-hunting reporting — and the “stupid” hunting ban.

    “When I joined the Mirror I was anti-hunting, in the way you are when you don’t think about it,” said Seymour, 62, who lives in London with his wife and twin 13-year-old daughters.

    “I’ve been riding for nearly 20 years from Jill Carenza’s yard at Stanton in Gloucestershire, where we keep a horse. Over the years, having spent time with riding and hunting folk, I’ve come to understand what hunting is about — which is rather different from my colleagues at the Mirror.”

    Seymour spent nearly 30 years working for the Mirror Group, the past 12 as political editor for the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. Although his wife has hunted for four seasons, he had not hunted before now because, despite his beliefs, he took the view that to follow hounds while working for such an anti-hunting paper would be “hypocritical of both”.

    The Daily Mirror is one of the few remaining anti-hunting national papers, and has long been the most vocal on its stance. Over the past year, it has been littered with taunting headlines such as: “Sick Sick Sick — Rage at foxes horror”, “Tally Hooligans” and “Tally ha ha ha”.

    Seymour pointed to the ignorance among journalists and members of the public who take sides without any knowledge of the issue.

    “It’s totally over the top calling people ‘toffs on horses’. They [the journalists] have never met the type of people I meet out hunting — I used to go to meets on foot before now. Of course there are people who are rather well off, but there are some at the Mirror like that, and there are certainly some reading the Mirror who are like that.”

    As group political editor, Seymour was responsible for all stories that passed through the Mirror’s newsroom, and said he agrees with most — apart from hunting, and the Hunting Act 2004.

    “With a purely political hat on [the Hunting Act] is a really stupid piece of legislation that absolutely can’t work,” he argued. “If people think the police can track down and work out whether hounds are running around or chasing a fox, they must be mad — what are they supposed to do, arrest the hounds? It hasn’t been thought through.”

    His day with the North Cotswold was “fantastic”, said Seymour. And something he is likely to repeat while he takes some time out to decide what to do next.

    “More and more statistics are showing that people are coming out in favour of hunting or that they just don’t care either way — it’s fantastic.”

  • Read more of David Seymour’s views on hunting in today’s Horse & Hound (19 January, ’06)

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