HSA news release 31st October 2004

Hunt saboteur knocked unconscious with iron bar as hunt season starts

Yesterday (30 October) a group of hunt saboteurs were attacked by a gang of hunt supporters at the opening meet of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hunt and one was KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS WITH AN IRON BAR and ridden over by a huntsman. 6 received cuts to their eyes, lips and heads and others received bruising. An ambulance was called for the saboteur, who was unconscious for several minutes. He was checked over but did not want to attend hospital.

The incident occurred as the hunt appeared to be packing up at 3.15 p.m. following the meet at Lock Skinners Farm, Penshurst, Kent. The group of saboteurs were observing the hunt from a nearby field. One witness described how a mounted hunt member shouted "come on then" and 2 vehicles raced across the field. Men armed with lumps of timber, sticks and an iron bar jumped out and attacked the saboteurs, joined by riders with the hunt and terriermen. The witness said "It was obviously planned".

Lewis an eighteen year old protestor who was attacked and sustained a deep cut to the back of the head described what happened: "The hunt supporters had been verbally aggressive all day and it seems that when there was a small group of us on our own they sprang a trap. There were about twenty riders some in red coats, some in black. The huntsman Mark Bycroft set it up. He kept riding his horse into me and when I turned and pushed him away the terrierman hit me with a right hook. After that he [Mark Bycroft] stood up and beckoned. Vehicles came into the field and a lot of men with weapons got out and ran at us. It was an ambush we didn’t stand a chance".

Emma (30), was also attacked: "There was a large group of hunt supporters who were obviously up for a fight. There were three of them hitting and kicking one of my friends on the floor. I went to pull them off and one of them hit me with a stick in the face. My nose immediately started pouring blood; I was shocked and terrified."

One saboteur who recorded the attack was targeted and told how the huntsman, Mark Bycroft, shouted "Get him with the video camera" and rode over him. The camera, containing vital evidence of the attack, was stolen.

Sean (35) had a video camera at the scene and was trying to get footage of the attackers: "There was a large group of men in vehicles with bits of wood and iron bars. I was videoing the violence when Mark Bycroft shouted ‘Get the camera’ He then rode me down and I was attacked on the ground by a number of men who ripped the camera out of my hands. It was stolen from me and the police seem totally unconcerned that 'robbery with violence' has occurred. I can't imagine that would be the case if this had happened the other way around! They and the hunt are a disgrace."

Despite the seriousness of the attack and the fact that the stolen video camera would still have been in the area, police near the scene showed no interest. The police had been warned at the start of the day that the hunt were notorious for their violence towards protestors.

Nathan Brown, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association said "This was a serious attack and we are very lucky not to be reporting another death. Hunt saboteurs are on the receiving end of the violent backlash and campaign of intimidation against a possible hunt ban. This is the true face of the so-called respectable minority that the Countryside Alliance and their friends in the House of Lords are protecting. The Government should ensure that it does not appease these violent bullies and must use the Parliament Act to ban the animal cruelty that is hunting once and for all."

Notes for Editors:

Photographs of injuries may become available.

  • 1 November marks the official start of the fox hunting season. Many hunts, including the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent (OSBWK), held their opening meets on Saturday 30th October.
  • The OSBWK hunt is renowned among sabs for the levels of violence dished out to saboteurs and is regarded as being prominent among the more extreme elements of the hunting fraternity.
  • Hunt saboteur Steve Christmas was almost killed at a meet of the hunt on 1 Sept 2000
  • 2 hunt saboteurs, Mike Hill and Thom Worby, were killed whilst protesting at hunts.
  • Mark Bycroft (huntsman) and Graeme Worsley (hunt master) the OSBWK hunt were fined and received penalty points after staging a pro-hunt stunt on the M25 in Dec 2002. A motorway safety officer said in court that it "posed an extreme danger" to the public.
  • Bycroft has a history of violence and was found guilty of assault in 1991 after a saboteur was attacked. Bycroft's father, John,admitted in a Guardian interview to "acting like the IRA" (31 Aug 2002).
  • Mark Bycroft hinted at the campaign of intimidation when he was quoted in Horse and Hound on 16 September 2004 as saying "Every MP against hunting is on the hit list."

ENDS