A new political body has been set up within the hunting community to push for repeal of the Hunting Act and to prepare for hunting’s role afterwards.
The new repeal committee takes over the political lobbying aspect of the Council of Hunting Associations (CHA) that was set up in 2001 to fight the Hunting Act 2004 and brought together the 11 hunting associations in the UK.
A 21-strong committee of professional hunt staff, politicians and Countryside Alliance staff, chaired by MP Edward Garnier QC, met in London last Wednesday (25 June).
“There was only one issue and that is repeal,” said Tim Bonner of the CA. “Anything that follows can only be done after repeal, but we must also ensure that there is a solid system of self regulation ready for when the hunting ban is taken off the statute book.”
He said the new committee will lobby MPs, peers and parliamentary candidates in the run up to the next general election and ensure that there is public confidence in post-ban hunting.
Professional huntman of the Heythrop Julian Barnfield is one of the hunting practitioners invited to join the committee.
Mr Barnfield faces the UK’s first police prosecution for allegedly killing a fox and will appear at Cheltenham Magistrates Court on 21 July.
He said: “There are people who think that we can carry on we way we are now but there can be no future for hunting like this, when people are being dragged off to court on silly charges.
“The police arresting me apologised. They know it’s a bad law and it’s got to go.”
Patrick Martin, huntsman of the Bicester with Whaddon Chase, is also on the committee. He said: “We can never put it back to the way it was before but we need to show the parliamentarians what we will put in place if we get repeal.
“All we have ever done, both before and after the ban, is to preserve for the future.
We want to show that we have our house in order and after repeal can go forward.”
The next meeting of the repeal committee will take place in October in the meantime the hunting associations will meet to discuss the regulation of post-ban hunting.
Repeal committee members include:
- Edward Garnier QC MP, chairman
- Lord Astor, vice chairman
- Baroness Mallalieu QC, president, Countryside Alliance
- Simon Hart, chief executive, Countryside Alliance
- John Gardiner, deputy chief executive, Countryside Alliance
- Tim Bonner, head of media, Countryside Alliance
- James Legge, head of political section, Countryside Alliance
- Robert Gray, director of campaigns, Countryside Alliance
- Sally Merison, National Coursing Club
- Nick Bannister, Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles
- Lizzie Salmon, Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles
- David Hindle, Masters of Bassett Hounds Association
- David Thomas, Federation of Welsh Packs
- Patrick Martin, huntsman, Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt
- Julian Barnfield, huntsman, Heythrop Hunt
- Tom Yandle, Masters of Deerhounds Association
- Stephen Lambert, Masters of Foxhounds Association
- Alastair Jackson, Masters of Foxhounds Association
- Sam Butler, Masters of Foxhounds Association
- Colin Richmond Watson, Union of Country Sports Workers
- Barrie Wade, National Working Terrier Federation