A new hunt has been established for the first time for a quarter of a century. Roddy Fleming, a financier, is building his own kennels in Oxfordshire in preparation for the forthcoming hunt season. The new hunt, “The Private Pack”, will hunt trails laid to simulate the hunting of foxes and hares, in line with the Hunting Act 2005 and membership will be by invitation only.
Mr Fleming, who is nephew of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, owns two farms in Heythrop country, an area already hunted by a total of seven hunts. But according to Mr Fleming when not on his land, the Private Pack will hunt in parts of England, Scotland and Wales where there are no formal hunting countries.
As yet Mr Fleming’s hunt is not registered with either the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) or the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles and if it starts operating will do so as a “pirate hunt”.
“There is no spare countryside in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire which is not already registered to an existing, officially registered pack of hounds – of which there are currently seven,” said Stephen Lambert, chairman of the MFHA, “On this basis it is impossible that a new hunt could exist, except as a ‘pirate pack’ which operates without accountability.”
Both the MFHA and Countryside Alliance support Mr Fleming’s enthusiasm but believe he should register his hunt as soon as possible. “Any new hunt should register with the appropriate body, but the fact is that the creation of a new hunt after over a year of a ban sends out a very powerful message that the Hunting Act does not work”, said a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance.
“The hunting office greatly respects the energy and enterprise that is required to start a new pack of hounds,” said Mr Lambert. “However as we move towards the repeal of the Hunting Act 2005 it is essential that the disciplines applied by the hunting associations in order to protect the good name of hunting are properly enforced, especially where it concerns availability of country to hunt.”