HSA news release 20th February 1995

Hunt thugs use "IRA-style punishment squads" in terror attacks on northwest saboteurs

Hunt violence in the northwest took a sinister new turn over the weekend as masked thugs launched a wave of punishment attacks on anti-hunt activists in Manchester and Liverpool. Witnesses described the gang, their faces covered with balaclavas and armed with a variety of weapons, including baseball bats, "knuckle-dusters" and staves, as being "just like the IRA punishment squads". Although the identity of the assailants is not known as yet, all the victims were known saboteurs and both the nature and timing of the attacks, shortly after trouble flared at the Cheshire Foxhunt at the weekend, leave the victims in little doubt that they were singled out for punishment because of their anti-hunt views.

The first two attacks occurred in Liverpool early on Sunday morning. At about 1.30 a.m., four masked men armed with "knuckle-dusters" and baseball bats arrived at an animal rights activistÆs flat in Liverpool and broke down the door. Extensive damage was caused to both his vehicle and his flat and the cowardly thugs then attempted to drag him out in the street for an IRA-style punishment beating. However, he was able to fight them off and they fled. Fifteen minutes later, the same men arrived at the address of another known saboteur in Liverpool and kicked in the doors of every flat in the block looking for him. Fortunately, he was staying with a friend and so the gang did not find him; they left after causing extensive damage, terrifying the residents of the block.

But the terror raids did not stop there. At 3.15 p.m. this afternoon, a woman in Manchester was severely beaten by two men armed with staves who broke into her house. She heard her dogs barking and came downstairs to be confronted by two men in balaclavas who had smashed down the front door. They beat her about the head and body, leaving her with serious injuries to her rib cage; during the course of the horror attack the sick thugs even beat her dog.

Serious questions are being asked tonight as to how the men behind the terror beatings knew where to find their victims. The pattern of the attacks indicates someone with access to an official source may have provided confidential information on anti-hunt protesters' home addresses, a closely guarded secret precisely because of attacks like these. Indeed one of the victims, concerned at the possibility of yet further reprisal attacks, does not feel he can report the attack to police, as he has himself been beaten up by police officers at hunts this season and it is believed that a senior member of Cheshire CID is a prominent figure in a local hunt. Local anti-hunt activists are said not to be expecting early arrests to be made in connection with the attacks.