Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) director Mark Hankinson has been found guilty of encouraging others to break the Hunting Act following a three day trial at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The court case came about after the HSA exposed online webinars run by the Hunting Office in August last year. The webinars evidence a nationwide conspiracy by hunters to commit perjury and actively flout the 2005 ban on hunting with hounds. Throughout the three hours of talks, hunts are clearly and repeatedly incited to engage in mass criminality and shown how to present a smokescreen to anyone watching by Hankinson and other members of the panel.
In the footage, MFHA director Mark Hankinson makes their key point:
“It’s a lot easier to create a smokescreen if you’ve got more than one trail layer operating and that is what it’s all about, trying to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business.”
He further says:
“Bird of prey: the law states you can use a pack of dogs to flush a wild mammal to be hunted by a bird of prey. Now, that’s a terribly good wheeze for holding up, and I think that everyone during autumn hunting ought to be considering that.”Hankinson also struggles to justify the presence of terrier men at hunts:
“Terrier work, this is our soft underbelly. A lot of people would say that if you’re going trail hunting why do you need terriermen following you around? Yes, it is totally legal for them to be out doing everything if they follow the correct exemptions but it does flag up a bit of a marker to everyone, you know why do you as trail hunting, do you need them there?”
Following the expose a number of corporate landowners including the National Trust, Forestry England, United Utilities and Natural Resources Wales suspended or withdrew trail hunting licenses whilst Devon and Cornwall police carried out an investigation, which resulted in the charges against Hankinson.
Lee Moon, Hunt Saboteurs Association, spokesperson, stated:
“We’re delighted that Mark Hankinson has been found guilty and the sentence is of little importance. This result shows that he, and indeed the entire hunting community, are guilty of perpetrating a smokescreen to hide their illegal hunting for the past 15 years.
We now demand that the rest of the panel – Lord Mancroft, ex-police Inspector Phil Davies, ex-police officer Paul Jelley, Alice Bowden and Richard Tyacke also face charges for their part in this conspiracy. We also demand that the major landowners permanently suspend any hunting on their land.
Since the webinars were leaked last year last year the hunting community has lurched from disaster to disaster. The Quorn had masters suspended for hunting during lockdown and in the past week the prestigious Beaufort have been filmed shooting hounds in the head. All this along with their more commonplace crimes of illegal hunting, attacks on sabs and trespassing across land they’ve been denied access to”
Watch the webinars here