HSA news release 21st September 2001
Animal Welfare campaigner beaten with baseball bats by thugs
John Gill, an animal welfare and anti-snare campaigner from Castleside near Consett in Co Durham was yesterday viciously and cowardly attacked by 3 armed 'men' in his own home.
He spent the day and night in the University Hospital, Durham under observation for head injuries, after receiving stitches to head and leg wounds, and was expected to be released today.
John was beaten severely about the head and body with Baseball bats, by 3 'men' who attempted to break down his front door (one of the men apparently shouted that they were police officers) on Thursday morning (Sept 20) at about 0930.
It may be a coincidence that this attack comes the day after the parliamentary vote in Scotland to ban hunting with dogs (Protection of Wild Mammals Bill) and after increasing threats from pro-hunting supporters that they will not obey the law or go down without a fight. John Gill has upset some very powerful people in his local area with his tireless and direct campaign over the last decade to stop the torture and killing of wild and domestic animals by wire snares.
It seems obvious to us that this was a 'professional' and premeditated attack. The police are investigating, but from previous experience, local and national campaigners will not be holding out much hope of the sort of vigour and limitless resources that were spent on the case of Brian Cass, the head of Huntingdon Life Sciences, who was the subject of an assault earlier this year. His case led to a lengthy nationwide investigation and massive publicity.
In John's case, he has specifically requested that several local police officers not be involved because of their previous treatment of him.
Dyfed Powys Police Pay Hunt Protestors 21,000 Compensation For Wrongful Arrest
A group of seven foxhunt protestors arrested whilst they were eating lunch in a minibus have each been paid £21,000 compensation by Dyfed Powys Police for wrongful arrest and for trespass to property. The group of 4 men and 3 women, the majority of which are from the Swansea area, were arrested on 21 November 1998 whilst peacefully observing the movement of the Sennybridge Farmers Foxhunt near Brecon.
Police officers said they were following the orders of senior officers and detained the protestors to 'prevent a breach of the peace' at approximately 12.15 pm. They were ordered to drive to Brecon Police station where they were held in custody for some 10 hours before being released until 10.30 pm that night.
One of the group, Carey Lynne Jurczyk of Swansea, said they were merely observing the hunt: "We arrived at the hunt with the intention to monitor what went on. It was an entirely peaceful activity and something we had done before. We couldn't believe the over-reaction from the Police and as the day went on, when it became apparent they planned to search my house for evidence, I was even more concerned and upset by the police's actions", says Carey Lynne Jurczyk.
Acting for the group, Iftikhar Manzoor of national law firm Irwin Mitchell says: "My clients were eating lunch in a minibus when they were arrested, and I find it hard to believe that the Police seriously saw this as a risk of a breach of the peace.
"This substantial compensation is for the wrongful arrest as well as for the Police trespassing on their property, when searching their homes, and for retaining property belonging to our clients."
On 19 February, almost three months after the incident, the people arrested received a letter from the police saying no further action was to be taken. They then spent a further three weeks trying to recover from the Police property that had been taken on the day of their arrest.
"With Dyfed Powys Police paying such a large sum in compensation this demonstrates that an over-reaction to peaceful and lawful conduct will not be tolerated and gives hope to others that their rights can not be violated without redress," says Iftikhar Manzoor.
The above Press Release is from the rather excellent Irwin Mitchell & Co (www.irwinmitchell.co.uk) who have acted on behalf of wronged sabs for many years.
An HSA spokesperson added: "Yet again it has taken the courage and dedication of Hunt Saboteurs to stand up to policing that harks back to feudal times! The police are all too willing to arrest Saboteurs for no reason whatsoever to pander to powerful people in the hunt, through ignorance or laziness or sometimes as in this case, sheer bloody mindedness.
"Police force insurers around the country have paid out many hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation or out of court settlements over the last decade. If the police think they can get away with this type of victimisation and partial policing, they should be bought to book and this is exactly what happened in this case. Sadly, we expect this is another 7 people who will never view the police in the same light."
It's Official - Crown Prosecution Service say it is OK to try to kill Hunt Saboteurs
The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) today utterly condemned the ‘spineless’ decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to drop charges against a hunt supporter who drove over and almost killed an anti-hunt protester.
Martin Maynard, a supporter of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Foxhounds based at Felbridge, East Grinstead, Surrey, had been charged with ‘Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent’ and several other driving offences with an expected court date of mid November.
However Steve Christmas, the hunt saboteur who spent 4 weeks in intensive care following the alleged attack, was informed almost a year to the day of the attack that charges had been dropped as a key witness is currently serving a prison sentence for matters unrelated.
Dawn Preston, spokesperson for the HSA commented "We believe that both the CPS and the Police have been nothing but cowardly and deceitful throughout this process - cowardly in that they have used a convenient excuse to let someone, who we feel should be charged with attempted murderer, get away without punishment - and deceitful as they have let many supporters of Steve foolishly hope for justice from the system.
"Whilst Martin Maynard walks away from what could easily have been the death of a third hunt saboteur, perversely 18 anti-hunt protestors still remain on charges relating to some broken windows at the hunt kennels!
She continued ‘The reason given by the CPS for the refusal to continue the case is that a witness in the prosecution case is currently serving a prison sentence. But this witness is not the only witness, and indeed Steve himself, the person who it is alleged was purposefully driven at by Maynard, will obviously be a key witness, along with others who were present at the time of the attack. And since when did it become impossible for a prisoner to be escorted to prison to appear in a court case – whether as a witness or not?
"This decision represents a travesty of justice, but we will not let this be the end. Legal advice is currently being sought on the ways forward from here, and the CPS, the police and most importantly the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Foxhunt themselves should be aware that this is certainly not the end - it is the beginning of our fight to get justice for Steve Christmas".
The HSA would also like to draw attention to the timing of the dropping of the charges against Maynard, and the implication that the charges were allowed to stand over the summer to 'keep a lid' on the volatile situation in Surrey. As part of 'Operation Tempo', police from the Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, and Metropolitan police forces, associated Special Branch officers and the Animal Rights National Index have all been involved in investigating and disrupting any anti-hunt activity in relation to the OSBWK Hunt. If they are allowing charges to be dropped at this point, it is for the reason that they now have sufficient intelligence and/or levels of infiltration and are poised to act should matters spiral out of control.
We would advise fellow activists to be VERY aware of this, and to keep any protest within the law, however aggrieved we may feel at the moment.
Notes to Editors:- Steve Christmas was airlifted to Haywards Heath Hospital after being run-over by a hunt supporter at a meet of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Foxhounds on Friday 1st September 2000. The driver returned to the spot to taunt the remaining saboteurs who were attempting to help their friend. Both wheels of the 4 x 4 vehicle ran Steve over - he was admitted to Hospital with a crushed pelvis, four broken ribs and internal bleeding. He underwent two major operations, one to fit a metal plate in his pelvis and the other to remove two feet of bowel. A tracheotomy was also performed. He remained in the Intensive Care Unit of the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath for over 4 weeks’.
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