Hunts have greeted the redundancy of two of Britain’s most fanatical anti-hunt campaigners with caution.
Full-time “hunt monitors” Kevin Hill and Peter White have lost their jobs with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in what the charity’s spokesman Clare Sterling calls a round of “global cuts due to the recession”.
“When the organisation that lobbied for a law appears to be disowning it, it’s a clear sign the law is not working,” said spokesman Jill Grieve.
But hunts in the duo’s firing line — across the south-west — were more reserved.
Exmoor Foxhounds huntsman Tony Wright believes the pair will keep monitoring.
He said: “The fact that their funding has been cut will mean nothing — I think they’ll redouble their efforts to prove IFAW wrong.”
Cattistock joint-master Fiona Vigar agreed, adding: “Our members have felt threatened and upset by their constant videoing, so while their redundancy can only be a relief, I don’t think it will stop them”.
They provided evidence in two high-profile cases against hunts — the Heythrop and the Devon and Somerset Staghounds — both of which failed in the courts.
Former LACS chief executive Jim Barrington, who now heads the All Party Parliamentary Middle Way Group, suggested the redundancies mean IFAW is seeing the “writing on the wall” after a High Court clarification rendered the Hunting Act unworkable (news, 12 February).
“Perhaps it means they are starting to understand,” he said.
But Ms Sterling said IFAW remains “as committed as ever” to enforcing the Act.
“We still have our hunt campaigner and are still working on cases,” she said, adding: “We’re planning to take them back on a contractual basis for the new season, but haven’t finalised the details.”
Kevin Hill told the Western Daily Press: “If the hunting fraternity think they’ve seen the last of us, they are mistaken.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (20 August, ’09)