The Countryside Alliance (CA) is training hunt staff to deal with the media as part of its preparations for repeal.
Huntsmen from the Old Berks and the Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and South Berks were the latest graduates from the CA course, visiting the Alliance’s London HQ on Tuesday, 23 June.
CA spokesman Tim Bonner said media training was imperative for people on the front line of the hunting debate.
He said: “Part of the reason why hunting was banned was the stereotype of the arrogant, aloof and out-of-touch hunting world and some of that was because of the way we interacted with journalists.”
He said it is important that as many hunt staff as possible are used to dealing with the press, particularly hunts close to London and the national media.
Several training events have already taken place and at the most recent, CA animal welfare consultant and former director of the League Against Cruel Sports Jim Barrington played the part of an anti in the role-playing scenarios. Former BBC journalists staged interviews.
Old Berks huntsman Michael Scott said: “They really put on the pressure, trying to trip us up and we didn’t have a lot of time to think what we were going to say. It was very useful preparation.”
His counterpart at the Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and South Berks, Gerald Sumner, added: “It was very beneficial and I definitely was under the cosh. It was very realistic.”
The training has the backing of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA).
MFHA chairman Stephen Lambert said: “We have not taken communication with the media seriously enough. But it’s very important that we can discuss matters articulately when the spotlight falls on us again in the run up to repeal.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 July, ’09)