Banwen Miners Hunt – Transition To ‘Clean Boot’

Guest post from South Wales Hunt Sabs, giving their view on the momentous news that the Banwen Miners have left the MFHA.

Clive Rees has announced that the Banwen Miners Hunt have left the Masters of Fox Hounds Association (MFHA) and are instead joining the Masters of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association with the intention of hunting ‘clean boot’ – where a human runner is hunted by bloodhounds. Hounds are not trained to an animal scent.

It’s great to see the beginning of the end for the MFHA. The webinars expose in 2020 lead to the conviction of Mark Hankinson (director of the Hunting Office) for his part in lecturing hunt masters on how to avoid prosecution whilst foxhunting. Leaving no one in any doubt that trail hunting was a smokescreen. Since then many large landowners including the National Trust and more importantly in South Wales, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have banned trail hunting on their land.

Loss of NRW land has been a massive blow to the Banwen, partly because they own so much land and partly because the Banwen just can’t play nice with local landowners – so they have nowhere else to go. Large parts of the Gower are public access, but even here the locals have mounted large demonstrations showing that the Banwen are just not welcome.

They’ve lost pubs and landowners by pretending that they are trail hunting when there’s no trail in sight (we’ve been in situ long before they arrive and there’s never been a trail laid). On one occasion Graham Smith the huntsman, had a hissy fit when he realised we were already on the mountain and filming. He rode off in a strop – without the hounds, and wasn’t seen again until the end of the day. They’ve lied to people giving donations when fundraising for the hunt.

None of the above is surprising when you know that Clive Rees is a scumbag solicitor who makes a living from representing anyone charged with animal abuse/hunting/badger digging etc. He was convicted himself in 1989 of cruelty to four pregnant basset bitches who he had sold to an American hunter. He now specialises in defending cases prosecuted by the RSPCA.

The Banwen have lurched from crisis to crisis in the last few years, hatching one doomed cunning plan after another. Their bombastic and arrogant style has meant that they can’t keep staff or landowners on side and supporters have been defecting to other local hunts. Max Herbert (ex-master) is currently sniffing round the Carmarthenshire Hunt trying to get himself a little mastership there.

So all in all this is not a change of heart – they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to this point and have no other options. Whether they will manage as a clean boot hunt remains to be seen, but one thing this is for sure – we’ll be watching. Overtly and covertly. Time will tell …

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