HSA news release July 12th 2004
Gamekeepers and police assault hunt saboteurs at home of Tory Peer.
Hunt saboteurs in East Anglia today spoke of their ordeal when they were repeatedly attacked by a gang of gamekeepers supporting a minkhunt, thought to be either the Eastern Counties Mink Hounds or the Norfolk Mink Hounds. The incidents, which happened on Saturday (10 July), took place whilst the protestors were using non violent direct action to prevent the hunt from killing mink on the Ditchingham Hall estate near Bungay on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.
Up to 20 gamekeepers repeatedly tried to start fights and one female saboteur received a broken nose and whiplash injuries as a result of an attack. The police initially took no interest and were even seen driving some of the gamekeepers around. Following remonstrations from the saboteurs, a hunt supporter was eventually arrested. However, enquiries to the police for a crime reference number have proved fruitless.
15 police vehicles, including a police helicopter, attended the hunt and 3 saboteurs were arrested for alleged offences. The protestors, from Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk, claim that hunt supporters were allowed to attack the arrested people as they were being led away. They also claim that the police carried out a baton charge and struck protestors around their legs with batons.
Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson Nathan Brown said "The activities of the police on Saturday have to be brought under scrutiny especially given the fact that Ditchingham Hall is a large shooting estate owned by Earl Ferrers. We are left wondering if the police were his private security force that day." Earl Ferrers is a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk and Conservative member of the House of Lords. He also lists shooting as a recreation in Debretts.
Mink hunting is an activity taken part in by hunting enthusiasts when foxhunting and harehunting do not take place. It is acknowledged by many wildlife experts to be more damaging to fragile wetland environments than the activities of mink. A report by Suffolk Wildlife Trust on the activities of the Eastern Counties Mink Hounds submitted to the parliamentary Burns Inquiry into Hunting concluded "Our witness ended with the opinion that the disturbance created by the hunt far outweighed the damage done by mink...."
A photograph of the saboteur immediately after her nose was broken is available (see below)