HSA news release 26th January 2002

Garth & South Berks Hunt: “arrogant, reckless and stupid”

The Hunt Saboteurs Association yesterday condemned the Garth & South Berks Hunt as “arrogant, reckless and stupid” after their hounds strayed onto a main train line at Grove, near Wantage in Oxfordshire. The Hunt, who are closing their kennels due to constant sabotage, had been hunting by invitation of the Old Berkshire Hunt.

Hunt saboteurs had spent the early part of the day with the hunt and successfully prevented them from catching 3 foxes when, towards the end of the day, huntsman Peter Swann took his hounds to woods and scrub on the edge of the train line. The line, consisting of four sets of tracks, forms part of the main Reading to Swindon line and serves the West Country and the Midlands.

A fox, which ran along the train line and then crossed it was chased by the hounds. Whilst hunt members were several hundred yards away, hunt saboteurs intervened and tried to stop the hounds running on to the track. They also managed to retrieve some hounds that were already running along the tracks. When the hunt eventually did arrive, their inaction meant that saboteurs had to continue removing the hounds from the line. Minutes earlier, police at the hunt had been informed that a criminal trespass by the hunt was likely and that they should intervene to prevent such an incident.

Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson Nathan Brown spoke of the incident: “The actions of the hunt today were arrogant, reckless to the extreme and plain stupid. Hounds have been mown down by Intercity trains before on countless occasions, yet the huntsman chose to hunt his hounds right next to the train line. It was only the quick thinking and action of hunt saboteurs that prevented a potential tragedy. We could have seen the whole pack killed, or even a major train accident caused by them.”

When protestors raised the issue with hunt members and the police, a hunt official allegedly told them “Trains don’t run today”. However, 2 trains had already passed the scene in the previous 10 minutes. Mr Brown continued: “Whether or not a train would have been passing is neither here nor there. Rail trespass is a criminal offence, and the arrogant disregard of this fact is typical of the way hunts treat other people’s property in the countryside. Protestors are reviewing video and still camera footage taken in order to pursue this matter with Transport Police.”

The incident was captured on video, some grabs from which appear below:

Some hounds were called back from railway tracks by hunt saboteursGarth & South Berks hounds on railway tracksGarth & South Berks hounds on railway tracks Garth & South Berks huntsman still failing to take action as hunt hounds rampage across mainline rail tracks

HSA news release 31st January 2002
Hunt Saboteurs Left to Rescue Hunt Hound After Cliff Fall

Hunt saboteurs in the North West yesterday (30/01/02) condemned the Holcombe Hunt after its supporters, riders and staff showed little regard yet again for the fate of a hound which was injured after falling 30 feet off a cliff.

The incident occurred when the hunt met at Holt Lane Farm, Brindle, near Chorley, which is the home of Hunt Master, Arnold Greenhalgh. Hunt saboteurs were in attendance to use non-violent direct action in order to prevent the hunt from killing foxes or hares following a tip off from a from a local.

During the course of the day members of the North West HSA managed to save the lives of many hares and rabbits using tactics that have proved successful in the past. However, during the afternoon the pack of hounds were seen hunting near a cliff face, and one of the hounds fell. The saboteurs were at the incident within seconds to attend to the hound. One saboteur then picked up the severely injured hound, which had blood streaming from its mouth, and ran over to the nearby road to get help.

Despite the presence of 20 hunt supporters at the road they all ignored the saboteurs pleas for help and it was not until a member of the hunt staff decided to intervene after several minutes that a supporter reluctantly decided to put the injured foxhound in his Landrover. It is not known what happen to the injured hound but sabs present feared for its life, especially after the unnecessary delay in taking it for treatment.

Following the incident Paul Timpson spokesperson for the NWHSA said "The complete lack of concern shown by the hunt and their supporters over the incident is disgraceful and highlights the hunt's blatant disregard for life - whether it be fox, hare, horse or hound. It also goes to show that the hunt see the hounds as expendable as they just carried on hunting as if nothing had happened.

"Following an incident five years ago when sabs helped save the lives of two hounds from nearly drowning in an ice covered reservoir, it would be appreciated if the hunt would publicly thank the sabs for their help yet again".

Notes to Editors: -
For general information on NWHSA and past press releases please see the NWHSA website at

HSA news release 11th February 2002
HSA Calls for Prosecutions Before Another Hunt Saboteur is Killed

On 22 January 2002, hunt protestor Simon Wild was attacked at a meet of the Chiddingfold Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt in West Sussex. He was then ridden over by a member of the hunt on a horse. The League Against Cruel Sports has announced its intention to use bodyguards to protect protestors from similar incidents. The huntsman has gleefully admitted his part for last Saturday's Independent, and pro-hunt commentators are laughing about the situation.

11 years ago this Saturday, on 9 February 1991, Hunt Saboteur Mike Hill was killed by a vehicle belonging to the Cheshire Beagles Hunt. On 3 April 1993, Tom Worby died under the wheels of the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds hound-van. On 1 Sept 2000, hunt saboteur Steve Christmas came close to losing his life when he was run over by a 4x4 at a meet of the Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent Hunt. Steve had to be airlifted from the scene and spent months in intensive care.

Today the Hunt Saboteurs Association called for more appropriate policing at hunts. Spokesperson Nathan Brown said "We have recently seen approximately 100 police officers mobilised in Sussex to prevent hunt saboteurs from blowing horns or spraying the ground with a harmless mix of citronella oil and water. Meanwhile, no concerted attempt has been made to tackle the violence dished out to protestors by hunts and their supporters."

Taking one day as a snapshot, Saturday 19 January 2002, attacks were made on hunt saboteurs at 5 different hunts across the country showing how widespread the problem is:

  • Woodland Pytchley Hunt, Northants. A hunt steward was arrested and taken to Corby police station after a hunt saboteur was attacked.
  • Four Burrow Hunt, Cornwall. A hunt saboteur was taken to hospital in an ambulance after being run over by a horse trailer.
  • Vale of Aylesbury Hunt, Hertfordshire. A hunt saboteur was driven at by an angry hunt supporter and had to throw himself clear to avoid being hit.
  • High Peak Harriers, Derbyshire. A hunt supporter drove at hunt saboteurs. She hit one female sab who landed on her bonnet and became trapped between two vehicles.
  • Vale of White Horse Hunt, Gloucestershire. Hunt sabs driven at by van and one of them clipped. Driver reverses and announces " If you f***ing get in the f***ing way of my f***ing car again I'm going to f***ing kill you... you 're gonna f***ing die!!"
With the exception of the Woodland Pytchely arrest, police have taken very little interest. The HSA spokesperson commented "Hunt saboteurs have always received threats and violence, but this season we have seen an escalation in the severity of attacks. We are not talking about a few punches being thrown, we are talking about protestors being run over. A lot of resources are spent protecting the right of people to hunt, yet none are spent on protecting our right to protest and, more seriously, our right to life. This season has been one of the most violent experienced in the Hunt Saboteurs Association's 39 year history. The fact that nobody was prosecuted in the cases of Mike Hill, Tom Worby or Steve Christmas has given hunt supporters the green light to attack saboteurs and has given hunt protestors very little faith in the legal system. Other than seeing an increase in prosecutions of hunt thugs, a solution would be for the government to honour its election pledge and enable Parliament to ban hunting once and for all"

Aside from numerous cases of violence, this season has already seen other incidents such as hunts trespassing on railways, hounds being killed, trespass through villages, and sheep being disturbed during the lambing period. Reports have been received of disturbance by a hunt causing 2 pregnant ewes to abort their lambs.

Notes to Editors:-
  • Jeremy Whaley, 51, from Duns (but about as Scottish sounding as Prince Charles) and the Master of the Berwickshire Hunt, was arrested after he tried to break through a police cordon in Regent Road, Edinburgh last Thursday. Police later said a 51-year-old man had been arrested for public order offences.
  • The Scottish Parliament votes on whether or not to ban hunting on Wednesday 13 February.

HSA news release 2nd March 2002
Huntsmen take out anger on protestors - Another Saboteur badly injured

The Hunt Saboteurs Association is claiming that the prospect of a ban on hunting has caused an upsurge in violence against its members following another violent incident, this time in Yorkshire.

Hunt Saboteurs from Leeds and Sheffield were present at a joint meet of the Bramham Moor and Badsworth hunts at Monk Frystton near Pontefract. The 2 hunts are being forced to merge next season following regular disruption from protestors.

During the afternoon, terriermen bolted a fox from an earth right in front of the protestors, who then succeeded in preventing the hounds from catching it using non-violent tactics such as spraying scent-dullers and blowing horns.

A hunter in a red coat then rode his horse at full speed towards the saboteurs. His horse tried to jump right over the sab, resulting in a suspected broken arm, but which could have been far worse. The protestor was taken away by air ambulance but later released from hostpital with severe bruising.

HSA spokesperson Nathan Brown said "I fear that we will see even more violence from the hunting fraternity. They know their days are numbered. A ban is imminent, and in the meantime we will continue to represent the will of the majority, directly preventing these people from chasing and killing foxes and hares. Strangely the police are slow to arrest the perpetrators of violence against protestors, yet are more than willing to arrest someone just for blowing a hunting horn or running across a field."

He continued to comment on the merger between the hunts, saying "This season will see 3 sets of hunt amalgamations. The Bramham Moor and another hunt thatis merging, the Garth & South Berks, have been under constant pressure from hunt saboteurs and it is paying off. If the government won't stop them, we will!"

HSA news release 4th May 2002

An unemployed gamekeeper was given a 6 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs at Corby Magistrates court on Friday (3 May) after he pleaded guilty to smashing a hunt saboteur's CB radio. Mr W. Playford was arrested at a meet of the Woodland Pytchley hunt at Stoke Albany on 19th January where he was acting as a hunt steward.

A hunt saboteur had been trying to stop the hunt chasing a fox when he was punched to the ground by another man, dropping the CB. It was then that Playford deliberately smashed the radio.

Whilst hunt saboteurs welcomed the guilty plea, they were disappointed to receive no compensation for the radio, which will cost around £100 to replace. They were also concerned at the light sentence and the fact that no action has been taken over the assault that took place that day.

Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson, Nathan Brown said, "Yet again hunting has shown its true nature. Non-violent tactics of hunt saboteurs save animals' lives and are frequently met with attacks and aggression from the bullies in the hunting fraternity.

"This hunt has a reputation for the violence they visit on anti-hunt protestors. David Reynolds, Master of the Woodland Pytchley hunt, is a prominent member of the Countryside Alliance, who have now threatened a 'summer of discontent'. In light of the increased violence hunt saboteurs suffered last season, I fear we will see even more attacks on opponents of hunting in the future until the Government has the courage to do something about it."



Catch up on recent press releases and news item from the Hunt Saboteurs Association

Latest news from the HSA

Browse old press releases from the Hunt Saboteurs Association and find out more about how we have saved lives and barriers we have faced. 

Official HSA Press Release