HSA news release 26th January 2002
Garth & South Berks Hunt: “arrogant, reckless and stupid”
The Hunt Saboteurs Association yesterday condemned the Garth & South Berks Hunt as “arrogant, reckless and stupid” after their hounds strayed onto a main train line at Grove, near Wantage in Oxfordshire. The Hunt, who are closing their kennels due to constant sabotage, had been hunting by invitation of the Old Berkshire Hunt.
Hunt saboteurs had spent the early part of the day with the hunt and successfully prevented them from catching 3 foxes when, towards the end of the day, huntsman Peter Swann took his hounds to woods and scrub on the edge of the train line. The line, consisting of four sets of tracks, forms part of the main Reading to Swindon line and serves the West Country and the Midlands.
A fox, which ran along the train line and then crossed it was chased by the hounds. Whilst hunt members were several hundred yards away, hunt saboteurs intervened and tried to stop the hounds running on to the track. They also managed to retrieve some hounds that were already running along the tracks. When the hunt eventually did arrive, their inaction meant that saboteurs had to continue removing the hounds from the line. Minutes earlier, police at the hunt had been informed that a criminal trespass by the hunt was likely and that they should intervene to prevent such an incident.
Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson Nathan Brown spoke of the incident: “The actions of the hunt today were arrogant, reckless to the extreme and plain stupid. Hounds have been mown down by Intercity trains before on countless occasions, yet the huntsman chose to hunt his hounds right next to the train line. It was only the quick thinking and action of hunt saboteurs that prevented a potential tragedy. We could have seen the whole pack killed, or even a major train accident caused by them.”
When protestors raised the issue with hunt members and the police, a hunt official allegedly told them “Trains don’t run today”. However, 2 trains had already passed the scene in the previous 10 minutes. Mr Brown continued: “Whether or not a train would have been passing is neither here nor there. Rail trespass is a criminal offence, and the arrogant disregard of this fact is typical of the way hunts treat other people’s property in the countryside. Protestors are reviewing video and still camera footage taken in order to pursue this matter with Transport Police.”
The incident was captured on video, some grabs from which appear below: