The case taken against two Brighton hunt Saboteurs was dropped today.
Alastair Cannell of St Pauls Street, Brighton and Gavin Pidwell of London Road Brighton were charged with aggravated trespass while attending a meet of the old Surrey Burstow & West Kent fox hunt. The accusation from the police was the two has used citronella sprays to disrupt a lawful activity. No evidence was offered against Mr Pidwell and the police and CPS decided it was not in the public interest to proceed against Mr Cannell. On that day the hunt was clearly seen to be moving in front of its alleged trail layer and foxes were seen moving away from the hunt. It also transpired that the police approached the land owner only after the arrests had been made.
The two saboteurs were released with bail conditions stating that they were not to consort with any other hunt saboteurs, although the police then called a known hunt saboteur to pick them both up from the police station! These restrictions were later dropped.
On the same day the police impounded the Brighton hunt Saboteurs land rover claiming that the driver did not have the correct driver’s license to carry over 8 passengers. Surrey police have since admitted that this was incorrect and the driver and vehicle was being used legally. It has since been admitted that the vehicle did not need to be impounded and all costs refunded. It was the police's decision to impound the vehicle and to do so which could have left a number of hunt saboteurs stranded in the middle of the hunt, if other groups had not managed to transport them to safety.
The police also had a number of Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) police officers attending that day who only recorded by video the activities of the hunt saboteurs, regardless of the fact that they have been a number of extremely violent attacks on hunt saboteurs from this hunt over the years and whose huntsman, Mark Bycroft, has a conviction for assault on a hunt saboteur. This is also the hunt whose supporter Martin Maynard, ran over and nearly killed hunt saboteur Steve Christmas. Although the CPS discontinued the prosecution, Steve was awarded nearly £20,000 in compensation.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt saboteurs Association stated: "Once again the Surrey Police and the CPS have shown that they still consider it their job to persecute hunt saboteurs and view them as the problem, when it is clear to all right thinking people that the prospective criminals morally and legally are the hunt and its supporters. If the police put as much effort into targeting the hunts as they do the hunt saboteurs, we would see many more convictions under the hunting act and the possible end of the flouting of this law, which is supported by the majority of the populace.