HSA news release 1st February 2003
Surrey Union Hunt - One Law For Them And Another One For Us
The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) today revealed that a hunt saboteur attacked by hunt supporters at the Surrey Union hunt on Saturday (1 February) near Guildford suffered a fractured cheek bone in 2 places.
The hunt met near Willingshurst House, Shamley Green and the protestor was among a group using hunting horns and a tape recording to distract hounds from a fox they were chasing. They were attacked by supporters of the hunt, who also damaged equipment the group were using. A supporter of the hunt is believed to have been arrested in connection with the attack.
One hunt supporter, wearing a distinctive Surrey Union Hunt jacket, claimed to be a police officer and attempted an "arrest" on a saboteur before violently assaulting him. The hunt is also believed to have trespassed during the day 's proceedings with the full support of the police.
Over 20 police officers were in attendance in a variety of four wheel drive vehicles and riot vans, ostensibly to remain impartial and uphold the law for both 'sides'. However, saboteurs claim that police ignored law breaking by the hunt and behaved as if they were a private security firm acting on the hunt's behalf at the expense of Surrey taxpayers.
- Protestors were forced off and refused access to public rights of way by officers
- Police confiscated items (i.e. not offensive weapons) used to save animals without giving receipts
- Protestors claim they were assaulted by police who also broke their equipment (video footage is available showing this)
- One protestor witnessed an officer announcing "you can sue me through the courts - I don't care"
- When the hunt trespassed onto land they had no permission to hunt on, they falsely claimed to be agents for the land and the police unquestioningly supported them
Six hunt saboteurs were arrested for alleged offences of "Aggravated Trespass" and taken to Guildford police station. Several official complaints have been lodged regarding the behaviour of the police.
Sussex police were called in to support Surrey (at further expense) with the request that they gather information on the anti-hunt protestors present "because we don't know who half of them are"! This is despite intensive video and photographic evidence gathering and vehicle checks whenever saboteurs are present, and telephone monitoring prior to hunt meetings. Recent attempts by Surrey police to offer money to animal rights campaigners for information on saboteurs in the county show their desperation to clamp down on anyone causing inconvenience to the hunt despite overwhelming public opinion opposed to hunting with dogs.
Local saboteurs said:"Given recent pronouncements on the lack of policing resources for 'real crime' in Surrey, it would seem obvious to go back to the days before the latest chief constable arrived and the hunt took over formulating Surrey police policy. Before they started bullying and arresting sabs under the direction of the hunt with laws they had not invoked for 9 years, the police could attend at a reasonable level without wasting thousands of pounds a day. We are constantly asked by officers at the hunt why we don't have a dialogue with them any more, as they can see what a waste of time and money policing the hunt with 20 or more officers every week is. The police regularly outnumber the riders at the hunt. Unfortunately the same questions do not appear to have occurred to their superiors."
HSA spokesperson Nathan Brown said, "It seems that Surrey Police are not acting impartially and the public deserve to know why. Saturday's events suggest an attitude of one law for the hunt and another one for us."
He added, "Despite the overzealous policing, saboteurs remained active in the area and ensured the hunt did not kill. In fact, because the hunt staff were on foot or riding on quad bikes, we were easily able to shadow their movements and be in front of them when a fox and deer broke cover. The day ended without the hunt killing any foxes, and the huntsman desperately calling for his hounds after they had been taken for a run by saboteurs several valleys away from him!"
Notes to Editors:-
Broadcast quality footage and stills of the incidents are available on request