HSA news release 5th September 2001
It’s Official – Crown Prosecution Service say it is OK to try to kill Hunt Saboteurs
The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) today utterly condemned the ‘spineless’ decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to drop charges against a hunt supporter who drove over and almost killed an anti-hunt protester.
Martin Maynard, a supporter of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Foxhounds based at Felbridge, East Grinstead, Surrey, had been charged with ‘Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent’ and several other driving offences with an expected court date of mid November.
However Steve Christmas, the hunt saboteur who spent 4 weeks in intensive care following the alleged attack, was informed almost a year to the day of the attack that charges had been dropped as a key witness is currently serving a prison sentence for matters unrelated.
Dawn Preston, spokesperson for the HSA commented “We believe that both the CPS and the Police have been nothing but cowardly and deceitful throughout this process – cowardly in that they have used a convenient excuse to let someone, who we feel should be charged with attempted murderer, get away without punishment – and deceitful as they have let many supporters of Steve foolishly hope for justice from the system.
“Whilst Martin Maynard walks away from what could easily have been the death of a third hunt saboteur, perversely 18 anti-hunt protestors still remain on charges relating to some broken windows at the hunt kennels!
She continued ‘The reason given by the CPS for the refusal to continue the case is that a witness in the prosecution case is currently serving a prison sentence. But this witness is not the only witness, and indeed Steve himself, the person who it is alleged was purposefully driven at by Maynard, will obviously be a key witness, along with others who were present at the time of the attack. And since when did it become impossible for a prisoner to be escorted to prison to appear in a court case – whether as a witness or not?
“This decision represents a travesty of justice, but we will not let this be the end. Legal advice is currently being sought on the ways forward from here, and the CPS, the police and most importantly the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Foxhunt themselves should be aware that this is certainly not the end – it is the beginning of our fight to get justice for Steve Christmas”.
The HSA would also like to draw attention to the timing of the dropping of the charges against Maynard, and the implication that the charges were allowed to stand over the summer to ‘keep a lid’ on the volatile situation in Surrey. As part of ‘Operation Tempo’, police from the Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, and Metropolitan police forces, associated Special Branch officers and the Animal Rights National Index have all been involved in investigating and disrupting any anti-hunt activity in relation to the OSBWK Hunt. If they are allowing charges to be dropped at this point, it is for the reason that they now have sufficient intelligence and/or levels of infiltration and are poised to act should matters spiral out of control.
We would advise fellow activists to be VERY aware of this, and to keep any protest within the law, however aggrieved we may feel at the moment.
Notes to Editors:- Steve Christmas was airlifted to Haywards Heath Hospital after being run-over by a hunt supporter at a meet of the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Foxhounds on Friday 1st September 2000. The driver returned to the spot to taunt the remaining saboteurs who were attempting to help their friend. Both wheels of the 4 x 4 vehicle ran Steve over – he was admitted to Hospital with a crushed pelvis, four broken ribs and internal bleeding. He underwent two major operations, one to fit a metal plate in his pelvis and the other to remove two feet of bowel. A tracheotomy was also performed. He remained in the Intensive Care Unit of the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath for over 4 weeks’.