HSA news release 31st December 1994
In amazing scenes at the Old Berkshire Foxhunt meet at Uffington today, a task force of 5 police officers from Faringdon police descended on saboteurs and bullied them out of the area. The squad was headed by PC Tim Dunning, who is a member of the Old Berkshire Hunt and socialises with their top officials. He has been the subject of many complaints from saboteurs before for his blatantly biased and unlawful actions while policing hunts.
Six members of Swindon Hunt Saboteurs had only just arrived at today’s hunt when the squad of officers was called in by hunt secretary Edward Leigh-Pemberton, son of the former governor of the Bank of England and a personal friend of PC Dunning’s. The saboteurs had just come off a footpath they had been standing on to watch the hunt and were standing peacefully on the road. The saboteurs, including Rev Bert Jones, a 67-year old United Reformed Church Minister, were astonished as the police:
Threatened and harassed them: one saboteur was told by PC Dunning “Any more of this monkey business and I’ll have you”. The saboteur was not told what crime he was supposed to have committed.
Illegally searched saboteurs and their property: saboteurs, their bags and their vehicle were searched without their consent. The officers refused to give any reason for the search and did not give chits to show the search had taken place as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act requires them to.
Stole a saboteur’s hunting horn. PC Dunning took a hunting horn from a saboteur, refused to give any reason for the horn being confiscated, and refused to give the man a receipt for his property. While the police are sometimes empowered to confiscate certain items, the circumstances under which they are entitled to do so are strictly set down in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act – the police actions today fall well outside these regulations and would formally constitute an act of theft.
PC Dunning then told saboteurs they had three minutes to leave the area “or else” and, in an astonishing admission of whose orders he was following, said that any further action “would depend on the wishes of the landowner”. The law says that he is employed by the Chief Constable and that any further action is up to the Crown Prosecution Service.
All the saboteurs have said they will be making a formal complaint to the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police demanding disciplinary action against all the officers involved for their blatantly unlawful actions and demanding that PC Dunning never be allowed to police a hunt again. He is quite clearly incapable of performing his duties impartially or within the law when hunts and protesters are involved. This is not the first time that PC Dunning has been caught out in this way: three years ago he allowed his name and rank to be used in a pro-hunt advert which appeared in national newspapers attacking saboteurs and earlier this year he was filmed assaulting a saboteur and admitting he had done so. It is time he was told his job is to serve the public, not the hunt.