Foxhunting was – of course – banned by the passing of the Hunting Act 2004, yet it has continued in more or less unaltered form via the ‘smokescreen’ of so-called ‘trail hunting’. We know ‘trail hunting’ is a scam, hunters know we know it’s a scam, and now leaked Hunting Office webinars (which purported to explain ‘trail hunting’ to some of the country’s ‘leading’ fox hunters some fifteen years after they should have simply stopped killing foxes) have demonstrated to the public, to numerous councils, and even to police forces that fox hunters know that it’s a scam too.
Even so, foxhunting has been remarkably difficult to kill off. Hunts have survived by relying on wealthy supporters, sending its hired thugs to work as stewards at pop festivals, prancing about at Game Fairs, and using a network of volunteers to do the hard work of intimidating monitors and sabs.
But it appears that foxhunting is nowhere near as resilient as its been trying to appear. As many campaigners have suspected (and we ourselves have pointed out recently), hunts have been hit hard by lockdown. Without the fees collected for hunts and point to point meetings, but with the hounds and infrastructure to maintain, many hunts are facing financial ruin according to the excellent new website Hunting Leaks (whose expose has now been covered by ITV News – see below).
While we would never use the term ‘sport’ to describe the actions of rural hooligans on horseback breaking the law, the phrases ‘in trouble‘ and ‘running out of money‘ will be music to many of us. The acknowledgement that hunts are also ‘running out of country (to hunt in)‘ is also extremely good news and shows how important the pressure on organisations like the National Trust and Forestry England to suspend ‘trail hunting’ licences on their land has been. It must continue.
Foxhunting’s collapse will be welcomed by the vast majority of this country who poll after poll show just how much they dislike this cruel and illegal wildlife crime. We’d welcome it of course, and would just like to add – shut the door behind you on your way out…
The rural sport of hunting is in “trouble…… running out of money….” with some in charge “unfit” to take control of the pastime.
The stark revelation from those at the heart of the countryside sport is revealed in documents seen by ITV News.
The minutes from a top-level gathering of those running the sport also record an accusation that the Chairman of the Countryside Alliance and former Conservative Government minister, Lord Nick Herbert, tells people what they want hear about a political strategy for hunting but he “never comes up with it”.
The bleak picture of this rural pursuit is laid bare in the draft minutes of a meeting in September 2020 chaired by Conservative hereditary peer Lord Benjamin Mancroft. The meeting of the Masters of Fox Hounds Association (MFHA) lists a catalogue of concerns about numerous hunts.
The meeting was told how a hunt in Kent “should have been put into special measures” and is still employing “unsuitable” Masters.
Another group was led by people who were “unfit to run a hunt” and the minutes record that “it is clear that some hunts around the country are getting into trouble. For example running out of country (to hunt in), money etc.”
Outwardly hunting usually portrays itself as a successful and vibrant countryside sport but the minutes cast doubt on that claim with questions over the viability of some hunts and the ability of their staff to carry out their responsibilities.
Lord Mancroft is recorded as saying the sport of Point to Point racing is the “worst organised and managed sport”. His damning comment came after the meeting heard that the Point to Point Authority (PPA) had “completely disregarded” a request from the Masters of Fox Hounds Association over documentation.
None of the organisations or individuals mentioned in the minutes and approached by ITV News for interview chose to comment.
The Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson Lee Moon told ITV News: “This is them being honest. They are in deep trouble. A lot of the minutes are about different hunts that for one reason or another, are in bother. They’re clearly feeling abandoned by the Conservative Party.
“As I said, hunting became a toxic issue for the Conservative Party. They’ve got a lack of money, lack of people, lack of influential supporters anymore.”Rupert Evelyn, ITV News, 09 Feb 21