1979 - 1999: TWO DECADES OF HUNT VIOLENCE
"Tolerance, understanding and dialogue are what we all seek.
Indeed, confrontation is not the country way."
Countryside Alliance, January 1999
When we started collating the research for this article, our intention was to make it slightly light-hearted, and treat the subject with a degree of humour. However, the more we thought about it, and the more information we received, the less we were able to do so. After all, two people have died due to the actions of huntsmen, and countless others have been seriously injured. Hunt violence is no joke.
The following cases are actual convictions of hunt supporters - you could multiply the number of these by 50 and still get nowhere the true number of incidents of violence against hunt protesters.
This article is also a damning indictment of the legal system. Even though many of the hunt supporters listed were found guilty of violent offences, only a few have been jailed. In what other section of society would someone get a community service order after attacking, and wounding, several people with a scythe?
Please note: Dates shown are the year of conviction, not the year the offence took place.
IAN RANDELL, the son of the Badsworth FH's huntsman, was convicted of Actual Bodily Harm to a Sheffield sab.
ROBIN FOYD, LENNOX FOYD, KENNETH LUXTON and IRENE LUXTON were each fined £100 for Affray after they attacked a L.A.C.S. monitor who was trying to film a kill.
Supporter of the Enfield Chase FH, GEORGE ADAIR convicted of Criminal Damage to a sab vehicle and ordered to pay a £100 fine and £60 costs. On a charge of Assault on sabs the jury were unable to come to a unanimous decision so Judge Hickman decided for them, finding Adair Not Guilty despite the evidence of six sab witnesses, a detective constable, a sergeant, an inspector and a superintendent regarding his alleged violent behaviour. To cap it all the Judge ordered all the sab witnesses to return the next week where he bound them all over to keep the peace for a year - refusing them permission to offer any defence!! (Judge Hickman refused to comment on the nature of his own recreational pursuits!)
MARTIN PHILIPS' 'sympathies' towards the hunt were so inflamed by the sight of two HSA sweatshirts, that he attacked the people inside them, leaving one requiring stitches to his face. Philips was fined £325, and ordered to pay £25 to each of his victims, as well as £19 damages for breaking a pair of spectacles.
MAURICE BELL, master of the Wensleydale FH convicted of Assault and Actual Bodily Harm on two saboteurs, one of which he knocked unconscious and left needing stitches. A female sab was also dragged over a barbed wire covered wall. Bell was fined a total of £150.
ANDREW SMITH, a senior civil servant with the Dept. of Agriculture, his daughter LORNA and son DEREK, all members of the Linlithgow & Stirlingshire FH (now defunct due to sab pressure), along with ANDREW CROWE and MALCOLM DICK, were all convicted of charges of Breach of the Peace and Assault. Each of the five was fined £400. At a failed appeal, Lord Wheatly deplored the way the hunt members had acted as 'self-appointed vigilantes'.
Courser KENNETH ALSOP is bound over for a year after a sab was assaulted at the National hare-coursing event at Swaffham.
Supporters of the Puckeridge FH, RONALD EDWARDS and his son STEVEN, bound over for a year by the sum of £200 after an incident in which a sab was beaten unconscious. Another hunt heavy was also fined £100 with £303.41 costs and compensation for damage caused to a saboteur's car, when he crushed it with his own.
WILLIAM BOLTON, PAUL HAWKES and DAVID LYNNE, supporters of the Tynedale FH, all bound over to keep the peace for 2 years in the sum of £200, after a vicious and unprovoked attack on a Tyneside sab. Bolton also admitted a further charge of Criminal Damage for which he was fined £50 with £24.41 compensation.
ROGER HOWARTH, a whipper-in for the Linlithgow & Stirlingshire FH found guilty of damaging a CB radio belonging to Edinburgh sabs. He was ordered to pay the group the princely sum of £10 for a new one.
Albrighton FH huntsman, NIGEL COX, convicted of firearms offences and given a 3 year suspended prison sentence after he blew a hole in the radiator of an occupied sab minibus with a shotgun. He was also given a conditional discharge for Assault (he had struck a sab with the gun) and Criminal Damage to a camera. No damages were paid to sabs after police 'forgot' to ask for them!
South Dorset kennelman NICHOLAS STEVENS and two of his henchmen all bound over to keep the peace after an incident when 3 sabs were cornered in a field and attacked.
PAUL CONNOLLY attacked a sab with a pickaxe handle, beating him while he lay on the ground. Fined £500 for Assault.
THOMAS SMITH and JEFFERY COOK, supporters of the Bicester & Whaddon Chase FH bound over for 1 year for Breach of the Peace after an incident which left the back window of a sab's car completely smashed. The prosecution dropped charges of Criminal Damage and Section 4 after a mysterious 30-minute adjournment of the court...
ROBERT ROUS, Master of Hounds and DAVID TROTMAN, kennel huntsman of the Waveney Harriers both bound over to keep the peace after an incident when a hunt saboteur had to be taken to hospital following repeated lashing from a riding crop. The C.P.S. attempted to drop the case after medical evidence was 'lost', and witnesses weren't called....
DENIS LOUGH-SCOTT, a Heythrop FH supporter fined £50 for Actual Bodily Harm on a hunt protester.
NEIL COLEMAN, first whip and kennel hand of the Cottesmore FH, fined £300 and £10 cost after knocking an old lady off her bike, breaking bones and failing to stop, whilst driving the hunt fleshwagon back from an evening down the pub.
Hunt saboteur, Mike Hill, was killed on the 9th of February 1991 at a meet of the Cheshire Beagles. Towards the end of the day's hunting, with no kill under his belt, the huntsman boxed up his hounds in a small blue trailer being towed by an open-top pick-up truck. The kennel huntsman, ALLAN SUMMERSGILL, with another man, jumped into the pick-up and, on impulse, three sabs who were nearby, jumped onto the back of it to prevent them driving the pack to another location to continue hunting. Summersgill drove off at high speeds down winding country roads for 5 miles with the terrified sabs clinging onto the back. It is thought that Mike jumped from the pick-up as it slowed to take a bend. He failed to clear the truck properly, and was caught between the truck and the trailer, which crushed him. Mike died where he lay on the road.
Despite the thud, and the screams of the other sabs, Summersgill continued driving for a further mile. The truck only came to a halt when one of the sabs smashed the rear window of the cab. The sab was hit with a whip as he tried to stop the truck. Once it had stopped one sab ran back to Mike's prone body while the other ran to a nearby house to call for an ambulance. Summersgill drove off. He later handed himself in at a police station. No charges were brought against him and in a travesty of justice, a verdict of 'Accidental Death' was brought at the inquest. Summersgill is still hunting hares.
EDWARD VICKERY, of the Quantock Staghounds, convicted of Assault after riding down and attacking a saboteur. Fined £600
DUNCAN BRANCH, a subscriber to the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray FH found guilty of attacking 2 saboteurs with his fists and a riding crop. Fined £400 with £250 costs and was ordered to pay £50 compensation to each of his victims.
MARK EVANS, whipper-in to the Hampshire Hunt, loses a private prosecution brought by a saboteur he had beaten with his whip. Found guilty of Assault.
Bloodsports fanatic JIM NEWBURY STREET jailed for nine months after planting a bomb under his own landrover in an attempt to discredit sabs.
FRANCIS MOMBER, the former master of the Hampshire Hunt, given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £175 compensation for smashing the windows on three sides of a saboteur's vehicle. Flying glass cut the drivers hand and another occupant's mouth.
JUSTIN ELLIS, MATTHEW JONES and CHARLES PEACH, all supporters of the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray FH, found guilty of Affray after Ellis rammed the back of a sab landrover, and Jones and Peach attacked it, breaking several windows. Ellis was fined £400 and banned from driving, while the others were each fined £250.
Holderness FH's huntsman, WILLIAM DEAKIN, convicted of Criminal Damage to a sab van and given a conditional discharge.
GARY WHELBRAND, an Albrighton FH supporter, found guilty of fracturing a saboteur's jaw in two places and perforating his eardrum, after Whelbrand jumped the sab from behind, dragging him to the ground in an unprovoked attack. He was convicted of ABH, and was fined £250 with costs and £75 compensation.
Atherstone FH supporter convicted of Assault and fined £200, with £138 costs and £60 compensation.
Vale of White Horse FH whipper-in, MATTHEW CALCOT was ordered to pay £130 compensation and was bound over for a year for the sum of £100 after the windscreen of Oxford HSA's van was smashed.
The South and West Wilts. FH's kennelman sacked after being convicted of Section 4 of the Public Order Act. He had violently rocked a sab's car with people inside. He was also convicted of Drink Driving at the time.
STEPHEN THAYNE, whipper-in to the Chiddingfold FH, convicted of Assault and Battery after riding down a group of saboteurs. Given one years conditional discharge and ordered to pay £170 costs.
New Forest Terrierman, KEITH COLBERT and hunt supporter ADRIAN BUNGAY, both given conditional discharges after a hunt saboteur was attacked during a meet of the hunt. At the time of writing Colbert is wanted by police for an alleged racial attack on a mixed- race hunt monitor (ironically the new hunt master of the New Forest FH is black - it was he that appeared in the latest Rover advert, before his bit had to be pulled after he was accused of drunk driving!).
3 hunt thugs convicted of Affray and Reckless Driving after they had chased sabs around fields before attacking them.
NIGEL TREVITHICK-WOOD, husband of an Old Surrey and Burstow FH Joint Master, received a 6 month suspended sentence for punching a sab in the face at a cubbing meet. In a related incident 1st whipper-in (now huntsman) MARK BYCROFT was also found guilty of Assault and ordered to do Community Service.
KIETH NOBBS, New Forest FH terrierman and NICK STEVENS (again), South Dorset FH's kennelman, both fined £200 for Criminal Damage to a sab vehicle. The car, with sabs inside it, had been overturned at a meet of the South Dorset FH.
CLIFFARD LARTER, a gamekeeper, found guilty of Assault on a Notts sab and causing ABH. The sab's nose was broken and more serious injury was only prevented by the intervention of two other saboteurs. Fined £200 and £75 costs.
JOHN FUNNELL, Master of the Surrey Union FH found guilty of ABH on Brixton saboteur. The sab needed stitches to a serious head wound and was left scarred for life after Funnell rode his horse over him twice. He was given a 2 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years.
KENNETH BANKS, foot follower of the Old Surrey and Burstow FH received a 12 month suspended sentence for punching a saboteur in the groin.
FRANCIS MOMBER (again) found guilty of Criminal Damage to a Portsmouth sab Landrover. He was given a 1 year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 costs and £175 compensation.
2 followers of the South Dorset FH convicted of Criminal Damage after over-turning a saboteur's car - with sabs inside it! They were ordered to pay compensation to the car's owner
Hunt supporters ADRIAN BUNGAY (again) and KEITH CORBETT (again), both given conditional discharges for 1 year after an attack on two Southampton saboteurs. Both men had to pay costs and compensation to their victims.
Quorn FH employee TIMOTHY TAYLOR found guilty of possessing an unlicensed shotgun. Fined £100 with £37 costs.
Pro-hunt farmer, MARK FULLER, attacked an Anglia TV reporter out with local saboteurs, at a cubbing meet of the West Norfolk FH. After assaulting the reporter, FULLER proceeded to destroy two video cameras and smashed a van's windscreen. He was convicted of Affray and 3 counts of Criminal Damage. He was ordered to pay £1050 in fines, £1463 in compensation and £150 costs - a total of £2663.
RICHARD and THOMAS CHESHIRE, both hunt marshals, found guilty of Affray and Assault causing Actual Bodily Harm after they attacked a car containing observers, smashing the windscreen before overturning the vehicle down an embankment. Two of the passengers were repeatedly punched and an attempt was made to drag one man through the broken windscreen. They were fined a total of £2049, including £100 towards the repair of a damaged video camera.
RICHARD CHESHIRE, (again) and Bicester with Whaddon Chase FH kennelman, MICHAEL SMITH both sent to prison for 2 months after a sab was pushed in front of a speeding quad bike. The case was successful because for the first time, sabs had video footage of the incident.
On the 3rd of April 1993, Tom Worby, a 15 year old saboteur attending his first foxhunt protest, was crushed under the wheels of the Cambridgeshire FH's hound van in an incident all too reminiscent of the killing of Mike Hill two years before.
After a successful day's sabbing, the hunt had boxed up and sabs were making their way back to the meet down a narrow lane. As the hound van came up behind them, revving its engine, sabs scrambled for the roadside; however Tom's jacket became snagged in the vehicles wing mirror and he was dragged some distance before he managed to gain a foothold on the van's running board. Although he banged on the window the van kept going, and when Tom finally lost his grip, he fell onto the road and under the truck's wheels. His head was crushed by the rear wheels of the vehicle and he died shortly afterwards.
No action was taken against the driver of the hound van, 53-year-old huntsman ALAN BALL.
WILLIAM HOWELLS, Forestry Commission worker and supporter of the New Forest Buckhounds found guilty of smashing a video camera belonging to the New Forest Animal Protection Group. (He actually twisted the camera in his bare hands until the casing snapped!) Ordered to pay £443 compensation and given a 12 month conditional discharge.
38-year-old KENNETH MANSBRIDGE, a supporter of the Hursley Hambledon Foxhunt, convicted of Unlawful Wounding on a Green Party researcher, who needed hospital treatment for serious head wounds after being kicked and beaten by a group of hunt followers 1991. MANSBRIDGE admitted kicking the victim in the groin and punching him to the ground. (On the same day, another protester was beaten around the head with a spade, and left needing 10 stitches and a 6 and a half months pregnant woman was hit on the head with half a brick, needing 4 stitches). MANSBRIDGE was sentenced to 140 hours community service and ordered to pay costs of £150.
JOHN STRIDE, a rider with the New Forest Buckhounds, found guilty of Assault on a saboteur (with his whip). Also convicted on a related charge of Criminal Damage. Fined £25 for the assault with a further £25 for damaging a map.
CHRISTOPHER R G NICHOL, hired Steward, admitted Assault on a female Pickering hunt sab, who suffered cuts and bruises. Fined £370 after admitting in court that he 'lost his temper'.
EDWARD LYCETT-GREEN MFH of the Portman FH, was given a 12 month conditional discharge for Criminal Damage. Originally 5 hunt followers including LYCETT-GREEN were charged with various charges of Affray, Violent Disorder, Assault and Theft after an incident when a blocked-in sab landrover had its windows smashed, a camera was smashed and stolen and the occupants, including a local reporter, were attacked. Unbelievably, at the trial the CPS refused to offer any evidence for the Affray and Violent Disorder charges and only Lycett-Green was convicted.
PATRICA HARRIS, a rider with the Portman FH, convicted of Criminal Damage to sab property and given a conditional discharge.
ROGER WAKEFIELD, Essex & Farmers Union terrierman, given 160 hours community service after being found guilty of Violent Disorder and Affray against saboteurs. Hunt supporter, BRYN CHITTENDEN was also convicted of the same offences and given 120 hours community service.
A supporter of the Cumberland FH attacked a photographer with a spade handle, after the photographer took the balaclava-wearing thug's picture. He was fined £200 for Assault.
The chairman of the Essex FH and two of his hired stewards paid a total of £1053 in damages to three L.A.C.S. officials, after the stewards had forcibly removed them from land. The L.A.C.S. people were pushed around and threatened by the hired thugs, whom Paul Dixey, Chairman of the hunt, was thought to have organised.
PAUL MARTIN attacked a sab repeatedly at a joint meet of the South Dorset FH and the Cattistock FH. He pleaded guilty to ABH and was only given a Conditional Discharge, as no medical evidence was given. During the trail he claimed to have been acting as a steward for MFH the Hon. Charlotte Morrison. More on Mr Martin later......
ANDREW PEARCE head-butted the camcorder being used by a L.A.C.S. monitor because he mistook him for a sab. The monitor receives bruises and a swollen lip as a result. PEARCE was convicted of Assault and given a 2-year conditional discharge.
Bramham Moor FH supporter RAYMOND WALKER attacked saboteurs with a SCYTHE!, leaving two with head wounds, and a van's windows smashed. He was convicted of Affray along with two other hunt supporters MR & MRS WINSTANLEY, and Criminal Damage. All three were given community service orders.
Leading supporter of the Surrey Union FH, NOEL CAHILL, arrested in November after an attack on saboteurs left one hospitalised. Police searching his home found a death threat ready to be posted to the HSA Press Officer
ANTHONY KIRKHAM, supporter of the Cheshire FH, received a 12 month prison sentence (suspended on appeal) for attacking a lone female sab who had gone to get help after the sab van had been attacked by hunt heavies. When Kirkham caught up with her, he beat and kicked her to the ground. More on him later...
Amateur Whip of the New Forest FH, JOHN MITCHELL found guilty of Careless Driving after sandwiching a Southampton saboteur between a van and a landrover, running over the sab's foot and hitting him with the wing mirror. A police officer witnessed the incident. Fined £180 and £150 costs and 7 penalty points on his licence.
JOHN EDWARD WEDMORE, terrierman for the Mendip Farmers FH found guilty of 3 counts of Assault after he launched an attack on three L.A.C.S. monitors. (Unbelievably, a L.A.C.S. monitor's tabard was shown to the court to prove that the monitors could not have been mistaken for hunt saboteurs - implying that wedmore might have had justification for attacking sabs!)
Surrey Union FH supporter, GARY JOHN MOORE, pleaded guilty to two charges of Common Assault and Affray after an unprovoked attack on local saboteurs outside a pub. At the time of his arrest police had to drag him off his victim, who had already been beaten to the ground. Even while he was restrained MOORE attempted to kick the saboteur in the head. He was fined £500
DAVID WOOLLEY, Joint Master of the Cheshire FH, cautioned after making a 2am phone call to the NW Regional Rep. of the L.A.C.S. He was said to have threatened 'I'm going to kill you, Bitch!'
3 supporters of the Vale of Clettwr FH bound over to the keep the peace for a year after an incident when a sab van was surrounded and the driver dragged out and held upside down. Terrierman Emyr Davies and supporters JOHN GALMORE JONES AND JOHN GERAINT OWENS denied Violent Disorder and the Theft of 6 items of sab equipment.
DEAN JOHN RICHARDS a supporter of the Tiverton Staghounds, pleaded guilty to two counts of Assault against a hunt monitors and a L.A.C.S. sanctuary manager. He hit both around the face before damaging a camera. He was Fined £50 for each assault plus £25 compensation to each victim and £69 costs.
A Master of the Cotswold Vale Farmers FH cautioned by police after an indecent assault was made on a young female saboteur.
STEPHEN BARNES, a rider with the South Notts FH, found to have deliberately ridden over a female saboteur, breaking her elbow and causing severe bruising, in a civil case brought by the saboteur. She was awarded £2500 compensation. BARNES was apparently 'banned' from riding with hunt after the incident in 1993.
Pro-hunt farmer, ROBERT VENNER, ordered to pay £4000 compensation to the L.A.C.S. after he broke an awning and smashed a windscreen at the Leagues stand at the Ô97 Devon show.
Member of the Vale of Aylesbury FH, GEORGINA BLUNDELL, cautioned by police after a hunt monitor was ridden into by BLUNDELL's horse.
CLIVE D WENHAM, joint master of the Bolebroke Beagles convicted of Assault and Abusive Behaviour on a 63 year old woman, when she encountered the beagles on a road. Wenham coshed the woman over the head with his whip, knocking her to the ground. He was fined £1000 for the assault and £600 for the abusive behaviour.
ANTHONY KIRKHAM [see 1995] finally jailed for his part in what the Judge described as the 'cruel beating' of a L.A.C.S. monitor. The man was chased across a field, sprayed in the face with a liquid, hit over the head with a bottle and repeatedly kicked in the head when he fell. Kirkham told the man, 'We've got you now; you're dead' as he pulled him to his feet and ripped a camera worth £1,300 from his neck. Kirkham was jailed for 15 months.
Another old face PAUL MARTIN, [see 1994] and his father BERNARD MARTIN convicted of Affray and Paul's uncle COLIN MARTIN convicted of Section 4 after they broke into the back of a sab van and attacked the occupants with spades and wooden staves. A sab photographing the event was dragged from the van and beaten while the family of thugs tried to remove his film.
SIMON WILLIAMS, kennelman of the South Devon FH, bound over for a year after being charged with Threatening Behaviour towards a sab (the kind of threatening behaviour that involves a 5 foot metal pole.)
The Huntsman of the North Norfolk Harriers, BOYCE KEELING successfully convicted of Assault on a local saboteur, whom he beat with the handle of his whip.
Supporter of the Dunston Harriers, PATRICK EVERETT managed to get the hunt banned from one village after he viciously attacked a party of 1 man, 2 women and four children who had stopped to watch the hunt pass by. He was fined £800.
JOHN WILLIAM BERE and DEAN JOHN RICHARDS (again) jailed for 4 and 6 months respectively after pleading guilty to Assault and Theft. The two Quantock Staghounds supporters had punched L.A.C.S. cameraman Kevin Hill to the ground before stealing his camera. The judge jailed the pair as an example to others saying, 'In my judgement, these are light sentences'.
At the time of going to press there are a number of hunt staff and supporters 'helping police with their enquiries' regarding violent attacks on saboteurs, some of whom sustained serious injuries.
And you know it isn't over when you read this:
"Born to Hunt,
Forced to March,
Prepared to Fight….."
Horse and Hound. July 1999.
From the inquisitive face of a young foxcub in Chiddingfold country, who trotted up to the Reading group and made friends, to the lifeless mask of another, butchered by the Cheshire Forest Foxhunt.
These pictures were taken within a week of one another during one September's cubhunting, at opposite ends of the country.
Foxhunting is an ugly game; We are here to put a stop to it…
This brief document was written by active Hunt Saboteurs. It seeks to redress the lies and myths spread by our opponents (slavishly repeated by the media), and to outline what we do and why we do it. It is dedicated to the 2 Hunt Saboteurs killed by huntsmen so far and the animals we could not save. The images shown are from our photo archive, the hidden side of hunting seen at first hand by Hunt Saboteurs week in week out.
The Hunt Saboteurs Association, in organised existence and with unrivalled experience of hunting in the UK since the early 1960's, was 'inexplicably missed off' the original list of organisations contacted by the Governmental Inquiry into some aspects of Hunting with Hounds chaired by Lord Burns.
As an organisation dedicated solely to the direct prevention of cruelty to animals, we were initially sceptical of the remit and composition of the Inquiry panel. Our fears proved to be well founded according to leaked information, and confirmed by the actions of the partial, naïve panel and the enthusiastic participation of the hunting fraternity.
Despite the Prime Minister's much publicised promise to ban hunting, the rules and agenda of the current inquiry were set by and for the convenience of the pro-hunting lobby, to their advantage, and against the wishes of the vast majority of the UK population. We boycotted the inquiry to avoid imparting any credibility to a wholly contrived rubber stamping exercise.
Hunt Saboteurs save thousands of animals every year, despite the efforts of huntsmen, terriermen, police and the courts to stop us. We act because we cannot stand by and allow the torture and killing of animals while politicians and media fudge the issues and delay any hope of legislation. Our actions mean the difference between life and death for hunted animals.
Over the past 35 years, hundreds of Hunt Saboteurs have been attacked at hunts, two killed by huntsmen and a huge number arrested by police in a futile attempt to stop what are proven tactics that save the lives of hunted animals.
Whilst the pro-hunt lobby and most of the mainstream media perpetuate the myth of 'saboteur gangs' armed with 'staves and balaclavas', the reality is, as the police would begrudgingly admit, rather different; Arrests have almost invariably been for 'Breach of the Peace' or more recently 'Aggravated Trespass' - not violence, just the heinous crime of blowing a hunting horn in a field or spraying lemon oil in a wood.
Whereas some campaigners will not overstep boundaries laid down for them by others, Hunt Saboteurs go directly to the source of the debate - and in doing so, see some of what really goes on in the hunting field.
There was no need for an inquiry into the effect of a ban on hunting - the outlawing of badger or bear baiting or dog-fighting were never delayed for the convenience of their participants on the pretext of job preservation or infringement of civil liberties as the current day hunters are managing. All it takes is political courage and honesty, something sadly lacking nowadays.
Whilst the media portrayal of Hunt Saboteurs is generally negative and mainly generated by press contacts and releases from the Countryside Alliance, some of you must wonder what we actually do to cause so much fuss!
Hunt Saboteurs have been using the same basic tactics since our inception 37 years ago; the underlying principle being to directly intervene in a day's hunting, to tip the scales more in the favour of the hunted animal, mainly by delaying or confusing the hounds.
By observing how hunts operate, reading the available literature and with some lateral thinking, Hunt Saboteurs worked out that they could give hunted animals that extra bit of time to make good their escape from the jaws of the hounds, and on occasions render a whole day's hunting useless.
Using hunting horns in a similar manner to the huntsman, Saboteurs found they could take control of a pack or at least cause enough confusion for the quarry to slip away. Voice calls to attract the hounds or to fool the hunt staff into thinking their quarry has gone in another direction are extremely effective, as are cracking whips to send the hounds back off the scent line of an animal or away from road or railway lines.
Pungent lemon oil sprays are used if the path of the animal has been seen, which serve to mask the animal's scent and further delay the hounds progress. More recently, amplified tape recordings of a pack of hounds in full cry have been used to encourage the real pack of hounds away from the animal they are chasing and over to the Saboteurs, out of harms way.
We are accused of many things, including ignorance of the way a hunt is organised and carries on, but in our experience, it is usually the Saboteurs who will be up with the hounds, while the riders and followers wander aimlessly miles from the action!
In areas where there has been concerted and consistent sabotage of particular hunts, local saboteurs are amongst the most knowledgeable 'followers' of the hunt - some in Surrey have seen the backs of 6 huntsmen and countless other hunt staff on just one hunt! Such continuity is often accompanied by thorough record keeping and research into the hunts and where they hunt.
This brings up an interesting point when it comes to the argument put forward by hunters that they could not change to drag-hunting because it isn't the same or that the excitement is not there. Apart from implying that their excitement comes ultimately from the death of an animal, any Saboteur who has followed a hunt closely for a number of seasons could (and sometimes will) lay a false trail that mimics the runs and jinks of the most evasive fox!
Hunts meet at traditional locations at similar times of the season and usually follow the same pattern of drawing woods and fields every season. To say that this could not be replicated by a false trail in many if not all cases is to deny the truth. We know of experienced Saboteurs who can beat hounds, huntsman and horses to where a fox has gone simply because they have seen foxes follow the same lines over generations (sometimes it is even the same fox).
Whilst the huntsman has to let the hounds work out the line of the fox by scent, in order to show good 'sport' to his paying customers (the mounted field), the Saboteurs can cut corners and intercept the line of the hunted animal well before they are pressed hard by the pack.
Amongst the disparaging reasons given by the Burns Inquiry for not seeking to view hunting from 'the other side' by accompanying anti-hunt protesters or Saboteurs was that they would be breaking the law by trespassing and could face arrest. Saboteurs feel that there is a greater crime of deliberate cruelty during hunting and as such an attempt to stop such cruelty takes precedence over other laws such as trespass. We would take the same action if we saw a person being assaulted, a child being abused or a domestic or protected animal being ill-treated on private land as we do to stop animals being hunted. It is an anathema to us that some animals are afforded protection in law from persecution, whilst others are not.
In being so close to the action during the course of a hunt, Hunt Saboteurs often witness scenes that the hunting fraternity would wish hidden from the public. We feel that the only reason hunting has lasted so long is that it usually takes place in remote woods and areas well away from the public eye and mostly during the week when the majority of the public are at work rather than cavorting around the countryside. Hunts are wary of strangers and anyone with a camera is viewed with deep suspicion nowadays.
Over the years Hunt Saboteurs have witnessed more deliberate cruelty than most people could bear, but it is their ability to use the experience to save another animal's life the next time around that keeps them going. There follow some excerpts from our magazine written by active Hunt Saboteurs that illustrate what goes on during a day's hunting and what we are prepared to do to stop it:
8am Saturday 17 October 1998, Old Surrey & Burstow hunt, Chartwell, Kent.
I get there at 6.30am to spray around all the coverts I know they hunt through from this meet, and find myself in the middle of the worst rain so far this autumn.
Twice in half an hour, a fox passes within feet of me and I manage to spray right behind it. In the woods below Puddledock, they get onto one which they hunt around back into the village and they have to leave it. The hunt turn south towards a covert they always draw, but I've already sprayed it, so it should be enough to put them off. We get to the covert (a small wood of about 1 acre) and the hunt surround it with riders and followers to scare any foxes back into the wood to be killed.
The hunt are determined to kill the fox in this wood, and things are getting fraught. There is little we can do at this point except encourage the hounds out of the wood, but with so many riders surrounding it, we don't succeed. After nearly an hour of patchy hunting, we hear the huntsman blow for a kill, and we rush in to try to stop them getting the "trophies" at least - they wanted to cut its tail and head off. This we do, but it's no victory. The fox was no cub, but in very good condition before its mauling.
The huntsman has the cheek to say of the mangled corpse that "it didn't want to leave, did it?" - well would you after finding every exit blocked by baying hounds and riders? On my way home after the end of the hunt, as the hunters were tucking into their breakfast, I had to pass back through the wood where they killed. Underneath the torn undergrowth where the fox had been ripped apart, I could see the entrance to its earth which it was obviously trying to get into when caught by the hounds - it had been deliberately blocked up with straw and mud by the hunt. I can only imagine what that fox had gone through being chased around its home wood trying to escape.
Holcombe Harriers / Royal Rock Beagles 1997/98 Season.
Mid December and we're out midweek on a lowland meet near the master's home, just four of us. This area is really difficult, teeming with hares and although the pack was split they killed a hare after about an hour - we were near enough to hear it scream, too far away to do anything. Within half an hour they put up a fox and the huntsman headed it off after just two fields to get it caught. I got there the same time as the huntsman was getting off his horse, again we got the pack off but as we went to rescue the fox which was dragging itself along by it's front legs, the hind legs dragging behind it, I was stopped by riders who had dismounted and started fighting us to prevent us getting nearer to the fox. The next thing I saw was the whipper-in bludgeoning the fox's head in with his whip handle. He quickly passed it on to another rider - there was no way they were going to let us get hold of this one...to see thirty people watch a man smash an animal's head in is something I'll never forget.
The hunt had lost a few days in January due to bad weather and it was still cold when we found them on the 25th on the edge of the moors. The hounds put up a hare but we quickly stopped the pack, they soon found again and lost the hunt staff due to the terrain. We raced after the pack, calling a few off, to find the main pack on the far side of a reservoir, some swimming in it. We saw them there the same time as the huntsman, he rode round one way, we took the shorter route and called what seemed the full pack out of the water and round to us and off to the rest of the sabs who held them in a valley.
Back at the reservoir though there were still hounds in the water only now we saw that the water was iced over and the hounds had fallen through when seemingly chasing the hare across the ice. We ran round to find a few of the hunt on the shoreline throwing rocks in to try and break a way out for the five hounds in the water. We joined in and this tactic worked for the hound nearest the bank who came out, although it soon became obvious that this wasn't going to help the other four hounds.
One had already gone under and the others were struggling to keep afloat, all the time letting out a haunting, baying cry. Two of us joined with a rider in tying together whips to form a rope before wading out into the reservoir, breaking the ice as we went. He had to swim the last couple of feet to get to the nearest hound. We dragged them both out, the hound was cold to the bone and as I carried him ashore I saw the last hound's head go under for the last time.
We dried the rescued hound off with our coats and carried him up to a supporter's car, on the road overlooking the reservoir. When we got there a local told us that another three hounds had been knocked over on the road and we could see them in the back of a supporter's land rover. All those riders and supporters, who could only watch their hounds drowning, couldn't even look after the few up on the busy road. The hunt collected the rest of the pack from the other sabs and packed up at 1.30, our worst day ever, and of course, not a good day for the hunt either - although a day of their own making.
Copper the Fox.....
Around 15 members of WSWPG were in attendance at a meet of the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Foxhounds at Upperton Common near Petworth when the incident happened at around 1.30pm on the 6th February. Hounds had been on the trail of a fox for over an hour, and the exhausted animal, about 18 months old and the size of a terrier, had tired to such an extent that the lead hounds were almost upon him. Just as they caught up with the fox, biting at his hind legs, one gutsy saboteur waded into the pack and managed to pluck the fox from the very jaws of death.
The fox, obviously terrified, unfortunately turned on his rescuer and bit him on the hand, causing him to drop the animal. The fox had been given the break it needed, and managed to seek refuge down a rabbit hole. As its tail was still visible, saboteurs sat in the hole to prevent the hunt gaining access. The hunt then approached with the intention of digging the fox out. However police present intervened to prevent a breach of the peace, and advised the hunt that they could not dig out. Unbelievably, one policeman lent his helmet so that the burrow could be blocked to stop the fox escaping without treatment. An hour passed until the fox re-emerged and sabs then managed, with the help of West Sussex Badger Protection Group who were also out monitoring the hunt to place the animal in a cage and take it immediately to a vet.
Richard Edwards, a vet specialising in the treatment of injured wildlife, first administered antibiotics and put the fox on a drip. Mr. Edwards later described Copper's injuries in the veterinary press: "On presentation, the animal was semi-conscious, hypothermic, profoundly shocked with multiple bite wounds to both hind legs and exhibiting haematuria. There was no evidence of any other internal or external injuries. Within 2 hours, the fox was conscious and sitting up. Within eight hours, it had torn its drip out and tried to bite me"! Mr. Edwards also stated that Copper would have undoubtedly died from shock without treatment, "I have never seen such trauma in a dog, even a badly injured one" he added.
Professor Patrick Bateson, the animal physiologist who found that deer suffer sever stress while being hunted told reporters that it was the first hard evidence that foxes were similarly affected. "This is an important first step in getting the evidence that fox hunting is unacceptable too".
The Countryside Alliance and pro-hunting vets claimed with certainty that the fox's stress level had been caused, not by being hunted at speed by a pack of dogs, but by the actions of Hunt Saboteurs in rescuing it. However, none of them could explain how it managed to recover so quickly whilst being treated by humans!
After 3 days at the veterinary surgery, Copper was making an 'uneventful' recovery and was well enough to be moved to the Hydestile Wildlife Hospital at Godalming, Surrey, where he continued recuperating from his ordeal. In March he was released, fit and well, into a non-hunting area to live out his life hopefully free from the persecution of 'sportsmen and women'.
THE HUNTING MYTHS THAT COPPER'S CASE DISPROVES:
"The chase itself does not cause the fox any stress; many actually seem to enjoy it".
Mr. Edwards has claimed that no-one has been able to come forward with any other satisfactory alternative explanation for the degree of shock displayed by Copper, other than it was caused by almost total exhaustion from the hounds' chase. As to the fox enjoying all the symptoms displayed by Copper .. frankly it's just ridiculous!
"Hunted foxes are either killed or get away unharmed".
Copper's case shows that foxes which escape the hounds after a chase may be suffering from such extreme stress that they may die a lingering and painful death anyway.
"A hunted fox is always killed by a quick nip to the back of the neck by the lead hound"
Copper had been bitten by the lead hounds - on his back legs! The lead hounds had bitten whatever part of Copper they could reach first, which of course were his back legs, so that they could bring him down. Once 'bowled over' Copper would have been disemboweled. Mr. Edwards is quoted as saying about the old 'quick nip'; "Given the relative size and strength of a foxhound and fox, I think it is almost physically impossible for this to be the case."
Hunts and violence are two subjects that seem to sit very comfortably together in the news. All too often it is the presence of Hunt Saboteurs that is used as the excuse for the coincidence of the two, when in fact the Saboteurs are the overwhelmingly the victims of attacks at hunts.
We would say that wouldn't we? But attached to this document is an appendix detailing the convictions for violence held by members and followers of hunts in this country collated over the last 20 years. In total, the convictions of the people in the list would probably outweigh the convictions of Hunt Saboteurs for Aggravated Trespass and Breach of the Peace ten fold. And these are only the convictions we know about!
Now that the hunting fraternity are finally facing up to the realisation that their 'sport' may be about to be banned, their prophecy: 'The Poll Tax, you ain't seen nothing yet...' may be coming true.
In the last month of the main hunting season, 8 hunt saboteurs were arrested in the whole of the UK for the heinous 'offences' of straying off a footpath or 'shouting near the hunt'.
During the same period:
- Vinny Faal, a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance in the North, and a representative of Sharston Lurcher Club, was arrested for Section 4 of the Public order act after allegedly punching a female protester in the face during a hare coursing protest.
- A certain 'terrier' man linked to the Southdown and Eridge Foxhounds in E.Sussex bit the end off a male protester's finger after first punching the man's wife in the face and damaging their vehicle near the hunt kennels in Ringmer. He is notorious in the South for his appearance on film offering to sell 'good billy dogs' (terriers for badgers), which is of course illegal.
- Two drunken hunt stewards employed by the Quorn foxhounds were arrested by Leicestershire police, and Hunt Saboteurs given a police escort out of the area 'for their own safety' on the last Saturday of the Quorn's hunting season. One has subsequently pleaded guilty to violent offences. Inquiries into the role of the then huntsman 'Dirty' Dangar (he has since resigned) in the trouble are currently ongoing.
- A police inspector from East Sussex was beaten almost unconscious by hunt followers of the Southdown and Eridge after refusing to accede to hunt supporters demands that Hunt Saboteurs be arrested. After informing them "I can't arrest them if they aren't doing anything wrong" he was punched to the ground by 3 men and kicked senseless, sustaining a broken arm and ribs.
- At a protest outside the Effingham Park Hotel, Surrey, the venue for a Hunt dinner, a well known hunt employee left his taxi at the gate to punch an unsuspecting protester to the ground so severely that his eyeball came out. The protester suffered multiple fractures of the orbit, and had to undergo surgery. The hunt employee returned to the hotel to eat his meal.
Millions of pounds of taxpayers money have been spent policing hunt meetings. The hunt, unlike football or other sporting clubs, do not pay towards the cost of the police turning out to 'protect' their 'fun'. Real sports involve competing but consenting participants who generally do not end up being abused and killed by the other participants.
No amount of money or effort seems to be considered too much when it comes to directing manpower and resources for the convenience of hunting, and all to frustrate the activities of a bunch of ordinary people who are tired of waiting for a government to carry out the wishes of the vast majority of its electorate.
It is no small measure of our effectiveness and the power of the people who's 'sport' we seek to affect and their friends, that has seen our relatively small number subjected to intense law-enforcement scrutiny and vilification in parliament and the media. We have seen laws brought in at the behest of the powerful pro-hunting lobby almost at the drop of a hat over the last 20 years.
In the early days of Hunt Sabotage, hunts that regularly found themselves the subject of attention from Saboteurs would generally resort to the most obvious and basic tactic of physical intimidation and attack to deter Saboteurs. When this failed to work, the police and the courts were brought into play. These initiatives have failed due to a lack of basic understanding of our reasons for existing - that we believe the hunting of a wild animal for sport to be inherently wrong, and as such we will do our utmost to prevent it happening, regardless of the attacks we face.
In our 37 years of existence, Hunt Saboteurs have experienced everything from the ancient (c1361) Breach of the Peace laws to the Prevention of Terrorism Act! What started off as a worrying threat for the early Saboteurs in the mid 1960's was (as have been all the laws since) confronted and ultimately rendered ineffective when it was being abused. The use (and abuse) of the law has been one of the constant factors in Hunt Sabotage over the years.
Over the years, we found our best weapons against the abuse of existing laws, and the introduction of new ones have been to ignore them in the field and fight them in the courts. For example, in 1986, the Conservatives brought in a new Public Order Act with sections specifically to "curtail the activities of Hunt Saboteurs". In fact, Section 5 as it became known proved to be the biggest fundraiser and source of overseas holidays Hunt Saboteurs have ever known! Despite suffering heavily at the start of the 1987/88 hunting season in terms of Saboteurs arrested, subsequent court cases proved to be less of a success for the prosecutors. The next 3 years saw civil cases brought by groups of Saboteurs detained in 'mass arrests', run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation and nearly a million pounds in defence costs.
1994 saw the appearance of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Once again Hunt Saboteurs were singled out for special mention in the drafting of the law, despite our unchanging numbers and tactics. A tribute to our doggedness perhaps?! Certain police forces around the country were picked as trial areas to introduce the more extreme interpretations of the various sections, mainly Northamptonshire, Essex, Sussex, Northumberland and Yorkshire.
In the ensuing years, all the above police forces have seen at least one costly high-profile court case against saboteurs fail as arrogant police officers and complacent prosecutors were trounced by the 'bunny huggers' and their lawyers! Sussex police are now almost alone in the country in clinging to the use of the 'Aggravated Trespass' clauses of the act. Not coincidentally, they are also one of the biggest spending authorities when it comes to policing hunts, and paying compensation to Hunt Saboteurs for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and assault.
The latest development is that the government, albeit a Labour one this time around, is considering using a catch-all Prevention of Terrorism Act. That it is only Hunt Saboteurs who have been killed by huntsmen, and that the police are the latest victims of assaults by hunt followers would be comical if it weren't so perverse.
We do what we do - week in, week out, in the frost, snow, rain and mud - with little fuss, and for the most part, it hurts nobody or no thing except the warped sense of fair play that 50 'men' and women get from setting 30 dogs etc on one wild animal. All the threats of obstruction, civil disobedience and violence are now coming overtly from hunting's supporters. In the lead up to the Foster bill there were the threats to poison Welsh reservoirs supplying England, and at the end of the last foxhunting season we saw the first undeniable attacks on the police by hunt supporters. Sussex police didn't catch the culprits of the assault on their inspector, because they spent all their time (as they always do) videoing the Saboteurs. They'd better wise up if they don't want to be caught with their trousers down should another sab be killed this season. While they are at it, maybe they should check the hunters for weapons for a change, or for red diesel, out of date road tax or mismatched number plates - if they did that, they'd stop them in their tracks, and finance their force in a matter of weeks!
We will wait to see what cards we are dealt next, and act accordingly, but it is surely an anomaly that a government which so publicly committed itself to banning hunting is bending over backwards to target the very people who have kept it under pressure and in the public eye for so long.
The Hunt Saboteurs Association. May 2000.
With the amount of slack, blinkered and plainly ignorant journalism currently claiming to 'report' on the anti-hunting movement we are compelled to set the records straight. As with other information on this site, it is told from personal experience by people who were and in some cases still are at the sharp edge of the fight to stop bloodsports.
In this first piece, Steve Poole (a former HOWL editor) delves into the archives to investigate the formation of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) in the winter of 1963. The early HSA, he claims, was a child of its time; and however unlikely it may sound thirty six years on, that was time when even the League Against Cruel Sports was endorsing direct action. To set the scene, he looks first at changing League policy in the late 1950s.
In August 1958, the Devon and Somerset Staghounds became the butt of a high-profile attempt by the League to lay false scents with a 'secret chemical'. The Daily Telegraph reported incredulously that "opponents of staghunting who have so far failed to stop the sport, are resorting to "sabotage". 1
Tactically naive it may have been; but it brought LACS some very welcome publicity, and the campaign was kept going intermittently for at least the next two seasons. This pioneering approach was carried forward by the League's new chairman, Raymond Rowley, in the early 60s. As the focus of League actions shifted to the South-east and midlands, membership increased dramatically and Rowley's dream of a 'revitalised' LACS began to look possible. In the midlands for instance, LACS gained 400 new members during November 1962 after false trails were laid against the North Warwickshire FH and the Albrighton Woodland. 2 "Anything the League does will have a sting to it", Rowley told the press, announcing that he was about to launch 'new' harassing tactics. 3
League militants like Gwen Barter had been grabbing headlines during 1962 with actions of their own. In March, Gwen brought the Norwich Staghounds to a halt by climbing onto the front of the deer-cart; and in February she prevented the East Kent FH from digging out when she sat in a foxhole. "There was nothing we could do", confessed the huntsman, "we just stopped digging out the fox and went away". 4
Since its foundation in 1927, the League had arguably been anything but dynamic. It had achieved no legislative success in over 30 years, and had only recently hit upon the idea of creating sanctuaries in the South West. The membership was largely inactive and elderly and media attention was want before Rowley took over. As a pressure group, LACS was a dismal reflection of the public activism of CND offshoots like the Committee of 100. Not only did the Committee win massive publicity for CND, but it appealed strongly to a more youthful audience. Former Tory MP, Howard Johnson, voiced the hopes of many when he told the League's 1963 AGM: "I have a vision in the coming stag and foxhunting season of whole numbers of you sitting in the roadway at meets of the hunt doing exactly what the anti nuclear demonstrators do". 5 That month, Spies For Peace broke with the Committee of 100, published the influential 'Beyond Counting Arses' and launched a more militant campaign of anti-war plan sabotage.
It has been suggested that HSA was the inevitable result of the League's progress along these lines being held back by its more traditionalist members. 6 It is tempting to suppose that Rowley hoped to appease both camps by assisting in the setting up of a direct action unit to run separately but in tandem with LACS. He now denies this. He certainly did not attempt to withdraw League support for sabotage until well after the HSA had decided upon an independent existence. He engaged a solicitor and helped actively with HSA's first major court case following the Culmstock incident in 1964, and as late as 1966 he was expressing his 'regret' at the HSA's 'independent' development from the League. 7
Following the peace movement's example, he took 100 activists on a 'dawn attack' with 'secret chemicals' against the Old Berkeley's Boxing Day meet at Amersham in 1963.
The first chairman of HSA, and its founder, was John Prestige, a 21 year old freelance journalist from Brixham in Devon. According to The Guardian, he "picked the first of his supporters" on December 15th, 1963. "He is the founder of the Hunt Saboteurs Association", declared the paper, "which has the support of the LACS, whose chairman, Raymond Rowley, says the League is willing to make available all the latest know-how on how to sabotage a hunt". 8 Prestige, it was announced, was to travel to London "for instructions... that trained action groups could be set up all over the country". According to both Rowley and Prestige however, no formal meeting between the League and the HSA ever took place. Prestige adheres to the traditional view that HSA came about because "the League didn't seem to be doing anything".
He told the Daily Herald of his intentions: "We aim to make it impossible for people to hunt by confusing the hounds. The movement is being financed by a small legacy of mine and the 2/6d membership fee". 9 There were also two early donations of £500 each. One hundred members were enrolled in the first week and Prestige received 1000 letters in the first ten days he remembers. An office was set up at Fore St, Brixham and staffed by the HSA's first secretary, an ex-Palladium dancer called Joyce Greenaway.
Prestige led his small group into action for the first time on Boxing Day, 1963, as the South Devon FH met at Torquay. "We did so well that day that they cancelled the hunt", Prestige told me. "The local butcher gave us 50 pounds of meat and we fed it to the hounds. We used hunting horns. Nothing like that had ever really happened before and it caused absolute chaos! We did a lot of research on horn-blowing and did the job very, very well. The police were completely bemused". During the following weeks, considerable effort was put, into developing new chemical formulas for confusing hounds. "The main trouble", commented one early member, "is finding something effective against them, but at the same time harmless". 10 It was not until April 1964 that 'Chemical X', the HSA's first scent-dulling compound, was used (against the Culmstock).
On January 10th 1964, the second HSA strike was carried out against the South Devon FH. Tactics at this time were described by a reporter after a strike against the Dart Vale and Holden Harriers: horns were blown, roads blockaded, aniseed sprayed and 'highly flavoured meat' was tipped in front of the hounds from the back of a landrover. The hunt killed twice. Within a month, the movement suffered a set back when Norman Redman, leader of the Littlehampton group, became the HSA's first casualty to arbitrary policing. Arrested for feeding the Chiddingfold's hounds on February 15th, Redman was fined £15 for 'insulting behaviour' and bound over for two years. Although saboteurs now regard such treatment as an occupational hazard, the fledgling movement took the judgement very seriously and Prestige was moved to write to Redman in May, forbidding him to break the terms of his sentence. "We CANNOT allow you to take any active part in sabotage", he stressed, a letter which caused Redman some annoyance and contributed to his later alienation from the movement. 11
Within the first four months, HSA groups had sprung up at Portsmouth, Street (Somerset), Weybridge, and Littlehampton. The Street group, run by Joyce Cebo, boasted forty members by December 1964 and was harassing the Mendip Farmers and the Sparkford Vale on a regular basis. A group at Bournemouth was being formed, another in London, and Derek Lawrence was trying to turn Midlands LACS over to the HSA. fan Pedler joined the moribund Bristol branch of LACS, revitalised it and then set up an HSA group from its ashes. Prestige felt able to claim, perhaps fancifully, that Boxing Day '64 would see 700 saboteurs in action from Sussex to Nottinghamshire.12 There were certainly large joint strikes on the Whaddon Chase and the Surrey Union where smoke bombs and rookies were added to the usual armoury for dramatic affect. A capable self-publicist with good media contacts, Prestige began spreading rumours around Fleet Street that HSA would raid an unspecified fox farm early in 1965 and that a helicopter would shortly be brought into action against various foxhunts. Twelve months after founding HSA, he estimated there had been 120 strikes altogether, mostly in the West Country. 13
The first serious instances of anti-saboteur violence occurred during 1965. In February, three members of the Bournemouth group were attacked with an axe and a starting handle by thugs from the Sparkford Vale. Although a hunt supporter was fined £15 for breaking a saboteur's guitar with the axe (!); eight sabs were fined £10 each for 'threatening behaviour' (throwing flour bombs). 14 Worse was to come.
On May 2nd, the Street and Brixham groups (nine sabs) visited the Culmstock Otterhunt at Colyford. Their vehicles were surrounded, windows smashed and the occupants assaulted with otter poles and whips. Leo Lewis, the driver, was pulled from his car and beaten by four men who broke his jaw. Although seventy saboteurs turned out against the same hunt a week later and sent them home in disarray, the damage inflicted by the subsequent court hearing was far reaching. Leo's attackers were successfully convicted but seven saboteurs were bound over for a year after giving evidence. It was not the last time the courts would use this tactic and it took the aggrieved seven (who included Lewis and Prestige) so much by surprise that none of them took any further part in hunt sabotage. Prestige had in any case become disillusioned by the politicisation of HSA as a result of 'left wingers' joining the movement.
The legal offensive against the Brixham group threw the national organisation into a state of chaos. Communication between groups in an age where telephones and cars were not necessarily available, had never been that easy, but now complaints that HQ were not replying to letters became common. Pedler, Cebo and Dave Wetton wrote regularly to one another - Have we got any money?. .. Is Prestige still chairman?.... If not, who is?.. and so on. Eventually the job went to Pedler. Then in April 1965 came the Norman Redman fiasco. Redman was irritated by the HSA's insistence that he should take no part in any sabotage until the terms of his binding over were met. Feeling 'disowned' by the movement, and in Jean Pyke's view, "keen to get back at his old friends", Redman suddenly accepted an invitation to ride with the Crawley and Horsham FH. The national press, for whom the HSA was still good copy, rushed to the meet with pens and cameras poised to hear Redman hold forth about "infantile" hunt saboteurs. The London and Littlehampton groups quickly organised a strike against the hunt and had the satisfaction of seeing Redman fall headlong from his horse into a thorn bush. It was an episode the HSA could well have done without. Eager to capitalise on this rare example of beneficial publicity, the British Field Sports Society (BFSS) tried for a short while to use Redman as pro-hunting speaker in debates but he soon lost interest and quietly faded from the picture.
End of The Honeymoon
By the end of 1965, the HSA's honeymoon period was definitely over Some groups were buckling under the continuous assaults of courts and heavies. "I seem to have done nothing recently but get kicked and knocked about", considered Joyce Cebo feelingly, "I think it is best to do things undercover now '. 16 The Street group switched to sabotage by stealth before the meet rather than confrontation with smoke bombs during it. But the group did not survive beyond the summer of 1966.
The burden of organisation began to fall more and more upon Wetton's London group. They were certainly the most active by 1967 although fresh groups with new energy were developing steadily. New centres in Warwickshire and Hampshire were set up in 1965, and in the following year, Cambridge, Northampton, Brighton, Hertfordshire, Yeovil, and Essex University all went active. October 1966 saw the first strike notched up in the North when David Hansen and Stuart Sutcliffe took a group from Keighley out against the Airedale Beagles at Silsden. A publicity conscious pop singer called Lady Lee announced she was forming an 'army' of saboteurs (including Billy Fury, Wayne Fontana and Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits!) but, perhaps fortunately, the venture came to nothing. l7
In the 1964/5 season, Wetton's group dealt with 20 Foxhunts, 4 cubhunts, 2 hare hunts and 7 otterhunts during the summer of 1964. This total, impressive for a time when transport was even more of a problem for groups than it is now, involved the London sabs with 17 different packs across the south eastern region. In January 1966. this group became the first to experiment with high frequency sound as a sabotage method. 18
The HSA had come a long way since 1963 When Ian Pedler drafted an HSA 'Manifesto' in 1965, he made a prediction that has still to be fulfilled: "There have been many incidents" it runs, "Too many to name here. But some day, when we have won, someone will write a book telling of all that has happened".
I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me with material for this article, especially Gwen Barter, Joyce Cebo, Ian Pedler, John Prestige, and Dave & Cee Wetton.
- Gwen Barter obstructing Norwich Staghounds' deer-cart. March 1962
- John Prestige (right) with Leo Lewis after being bound over. September 1964
- Class of '64: Street HSA pose for the press during the Culmstock court case.
- Bristol Group with Ian Pedler (left. January 1966
- Dave Wetton (right) blows hounds out of a covert. April 1965
- London Group & smoke bomb interrupts the Cowdray's Iping meet. December 1965
- Dave Wetton looking singularly unimpressed during the anti-Redman demo. April 1965
- Daily Telegraph 4/8/1958
- Sunday Mercury 25/11/1962
- Solihull News 1/12/1962
- Herald Journal 19/2/1962; East Anglian Daily Times 16/3/1962
- Daily Telegraph 15/5/1963
- See for example, R.Thomas 'The Politics of Hunting'
- Interview with Joyce Cebo 18/12/1988; Rowley - Pedler 6/2/1966
- The Guardian 16/12/1963
- Daily Herald 16/12/1963
- Hilton - Pedler 18/1/1964
- Western Morning News 2/3/1964; The People 16/2/1964; Prestige - Redman 18/5/1964
- Sunday Citizen 13/12/1964
- The Guardian 30/12/1964
- Western Daily Press 6/2/1965
- Pike - Pedler 14/5/1965: Daily Mail 14/4/1965; Redman - Pedler (various dates 1964-66)
- Cebo - Pedler 21/10/1965
- Titbits 11/12/1965
- Wetton - Pedler 12/5/1965; 13/1/1966