MASS CRIMINALITY IN HUNTING COMMUNITY REVEALED THROUGH LEAKED WEBINARS

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Update 25.11.21: The National Trust board of trustees have confirmed the vote made by members at the recent AGM to permanently ban “trail hunting” on their land. A spokesperson said “….Its decision to issue no further licences for trail hunting is based on a wide range of considerations. These include – but are not limited to – a loss of trust and confidence in the MFHA .” Read more here.

Update 18.11.21: 

Natural Resources Wales have announced they’re permanently banning “trail” hunting on their land following a decision by its Board not to renew its agreement with the Masters of Foxhounds Association.

Dominic Driver, Head of Land Stewardship for NRW, said:

“We have carefully considered the court ruling and our role before coming to a decision at the Board meeting, which we held in public session. The Board has decided not to renew our agreement with the Master Fox Hounds Association.

“The outcome of the court case against a senior leader of the MFHA has resulted in a loss of confidence in the organisation’s ability to ensure its activities are carried out within the law and terms of its agreement.”

Update 30.10.21:

The National Trust have permanently banned hunting on their land following their AGM held in Harrogate today.

This was the first chance for the trust’s 5.6 million members to vote on hunting since 2017, when the board used discretionary proxy votes to defeat a motion calling for a ban. Accusations of unfairness followed, with members who supported the ban claiming those in favour had used “dirty tricks” to vote down the motion.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated:

“We’re delighted that the National Trust and its members have finally made the right decision and banned hunting from their land. Following the Hunting Office webinar expose and Mark Hankinson’s conviction they really had little option but to distance themselves from the criminal countryside gangs that hunts have become.

The webinars contained blatant admissions of widespread illegal hunting and the use of smokescreens to confuse the public. Any respectable landowner knows their reputation will be forever tarnished if they don’t permanently distance themselves from the hunting community.”

Update 25.10.21:

The Countryside Alliance membership of the National Wildlife Crime Unit is under review after their representative at the top level meetings was suspended following comments he made “relating to illegal fox hunting”. 

Former Dyfed Powys Police Chief Inspector Phil Davies has been suspended as a member of the UK Priority Delivery Groups (PDGs) for wildlife crime after a judge drew attention to words he used in an online hunting webinar.

Update 15.10.21:

Mark Hankinson has been found guilty of “encouraging or assisting others to commit offences under the Hunting Act.” He has been fined £1,000 along with a contribution of £2,500 towards legal costs.

In the footage, MFHA director Hankinson makes their key point: “It’s a lot easier to create a smokescreen if you’ve got more than one trail layer operating and that is what it’s all about, trying to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business.”

He further says: “Bird of prey: the law states you can use a pack of dogs to flush a wild mammal to be hunted by a bird of prey. Now, that’s a terribly good wheeze for holding up, and I think that everyone during autumn hunting ought to be considering that.”

Hankinson also struggles to justify the presence of terrier men at hunts: “Terrier work, this is our soft underbelly. A lot of people would say that if you’re going trail hunting why do you need terriermen following you around? Yes, it is totally legal for them to be out doing everything if they follow the correct exemptions but it does flag up a bit of a marker to everyone, you know why do you as trail hunting, do you need them there?”

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram concluded: “Mr Hankinson’s advice that trail laying needed to be “plausible” was only necessary if it was a “sham and a fiction””

“It wasn’t just bad language as he suggested, there was a clear and common thread throughout the two separate webinars.”

“A specific aggravating factor was that you were speaking to large number of people. Your words potentially had an impact throughout the whole country.”

The verdict featured on ITV National News.

Update 22.09.21:

Mark Hankinson’s three day trial has concluded. He’ll be sentenced on the 15th October.

Update 20.09.21:

Mark Hankinson, Director of the Hunting Office has appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court to answer charges of “encouraging or assisting others to commit offences under the Hunting Act.” The trial continues tomorrow.

Update 13.02.21:

Mark Hankinson has been charged with “encouraging or assisting others to commit offences under the Hunting Act” following his participation in online seminars which were exposed by the HSA last year.

Update 27.11.20:

Two more major landowners have suspended licenses today. The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) stated that “Whilst these allegations are being examined by the police and Crown Prosecution Service to determine if any criminal offences have taken place, we have suspended trail hunting on National Park Authority land.
“This will include the suspension of the licence issued to the Blencathra Foxhounds. We will consider any action we need to take once the investigation is complete.”

Clare Pillman, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales, said: “Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has suspended all trail hunting permissions on the NRW-managed estate with immediate effect, pending the outcome of a police investigation into activities involving The Hunting Office.

“All trail hunting activity planned for this season will be paused, and no new permissions will be granted until this investigation has concluded.”

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated “We’re delighted to hear that Natural Resources Wales and the Lake District National park authority have followed the lead of Forestry England, National Trust and United Utilities in suspending hunting licenses.

The large public landowners are realising that they must suspend the hunt licenses if they don’t want to be accused of colluding with an illegal activity. In the last 24hrs nearly one and a half million acres have been put out of bounds to the hunts and we look forward to that figure rising. The ministry of defence must surely be the next announcement or they risk mass public condemnation.

The next stage in our campaign will be to ensure that these suspensions become permanent bans.”

An HSA representative spoke on ITV news at Ten last night – fb.watch/210L2X40qH/

National Press coverage today includes:
www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trail-hunting-fox-wales-police-b1762843.html

Update 26.11.20: The National Trust and United Utilities have both suspended hunting on their land, the NT have gone further and said they won’t license any hunts for the rest of this hunting season.

United Utilities announced: “We are suspending trail hunting on our land until this (police) investigation is complete. At that point we will consider what action we should take. 

The National Trust said it was “pausing trail hunting on it’s land and would not be issuing any licenses for the rest of this season.

Natural Resources Wales said it was also considering whether to take any action.

The webinars were also raised in the House of Commons this morning by Shadow Environment Secretary Luke Pollard. Watch the video here

National Press coverage includes:

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trail-hunting-zoom-police-smokescreen-forest-b1761796.html

www.itv.com/news/2020-11-25/exclusive-trail-hunting-suspended-on-forestry-england-land

Update 25.11.20: Forestry England have suspended hunting on their land while they investigate the webinars. Mike Seddon, Forestry England Chief Executive, said: “We are clear when we give people licences or permission for activities in the nation’s forests that they must behave legally and responsibly or risk losing the right to carry on. “Once we had confirmation from the police that they were investigating activities involving the Hunting Office, we suspended all licences granted to organisations that delegate work to them.

Lee Moon, spokesperson from the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: We’re pleased that Forestry England are distancing themselves from the criminal hunts. They’ll surely be the first of the licensing authorities to suspend hunting on their land and we look forward to others, including the National Trust, following suit. Well done to local sab groups, particularly Weymouth animal rights, who have been lobbying Forestry England since the webinar story broke two weeks ago. The conspiracy of trail hunt lies has well and truly been smashed open and this must surely be the beginning of the end for hunting with hounds in the UK.

Update 24.11.20: Devon and Cornwall Police have now launched an investigation into the Hunting Office webinars. Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton, National Police Chief Council lead for fox hunting, said: “Police are currently investigating and examining video content from two Webinars on the theme of hunting which have recently come to our attention.

“We are working in conjunction with the CPS to see if any criminal offences have been committed.

“As these events were online and there are no specific geographical areas for one force to investigate, Devon and Cornwall Police are leading the investigation on behalf of all UK forces.

“We understand this is a contentious issue. However, at this time this is a live and active investigation which we cannot comment further on.”

The story has finally made mainstream media on the ITV –
www.itv.com/news/2020-11-24/police-and-cps-investigating-webinars-held-by-huntings-governing-body

Original Release: 13.11.20 

Online Zoom webinars run by the Hunting Office evidence a nationwide conspiracy by hunters to commit perjury and actively flout the 2005 ban on hunting with hounds.  Throughout the three hours of talks, hunts are clearly and repeatedly incited to engage in mass criminality and shown how to present a smokescreen to anyone watching.

The three webinars were part of a series that took place in August this year and were attended by over a hundred and fifty hunt masters from across the country.  The panel was made up of leaders of the hunting community including:

Lord Mancroft – Conservative Peer, Chair of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and former Chair of the Countryside Alliance.

Opengraph featured image

Phil Davies – ex-Police Inspector and Police Liaison Consultant to the Countryside Alliance. 

Mark Hankinson – MFHA Director, Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master of the Wilton Hunt.

Richard Tyacke – Chairman of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB), Hunting Office Executive Director  and former Master and Huntsman of the Wynnstay Hunt.

Paul Jelley – Master of the Chilmark and Clifton Foot Beagles from 1990 – 2013 and a Police Officer for 30 years.

The Hunting Office was formed in 2005 in response to the Hunting Act. It represents and supports hundreds of hunts in England, Scotland, and Wales.  Mancroft himself recently described it as “the executive arm of the Hunting Associations. It is our task to regulate and organize hunting across the country; to provide training for new Masters and Hunt Staff, and to set and maintain the highest of standards in every aspect of hunting, in the field, and in the kennel.”

The panel talk about creating a “smokescreen” to allow them to continue illegally hunting and ex-police officer Davies says at one point “I hope no police officers are watching”.  The presence of terrier men at so-called trail hunts is described as the hunting community’s “soft underbelly” as they have no justification for their presence.

We believe it’s vital these webinars are made available to the public, the press and the legal system so that people can draw their own conclusions about the damning contents. It will be clear to everyone that their aim is to incite widespread criminality and allow the hunting of live animals to continue as if their cruel sport had never been banned.

In the footage, MFHA director Mark Hankinson makes their key point: “It’s a lot easier to create a smokescreen if you’ve got more than one trail layer operating and that is what it’s all about, trying to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business.”

Hankinson also struggles to justify the presence of terrier men at hunts: “Terrier work, this is our soft underbelly. A lot of people would say that if you’re going trail hunting why do you need terriermen following you around? Yes, it is totally legal for them to be out doing everything if they follow the correct exemptions but it does flag up a bit of a marker to everyone, you know why do you as trail hunting, do you need them there?”

Ex police Inspector Davies was also keen on the idea of a smokescreen saying: “Now you know more about hunting than the saboteurs or the courts will know but what it will do is create that smokescreen or that element of doubt that we haven’t deliberately hunted a fox, so if nothing else you need to record that and it will help us provide a defence to huntsmen.”

Richard Tyacke, Director of the AMHB told the webinar “Currently most beagle packs go home if sabs or monitors are present. This is the safe and sensible course of action……What is not acceptable is to carry on regardless with them all around you as if they weren’t there.” 

Paul Jelley, committee member of the AMHB and ex-police officer, suggests that hunts purchase phones for the purpose of concealing criminality: “So something for you hunt staff and terriermen, trail layers and everybody to consider, if you’re recording evidence for the Hunting Act, trail laying, whatever, don’t use the same phones or anything you’ve been using for social media and bragging about what you’ve been doing out hunting.” 

 Lord Mancroft, at the end of the first seminar, advises the audience: “Please take that on board everybody. Anything that comes out of these meetings is to be kept amongst ourselves it’s not for general coverage”

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, commented: “These videos provide irrefutable proof of what we have long known – almost every single fox, hare, deer and mink hunt in the UK is routinely flouting the Hunting Act and illegally hunting and killing live animals.

This is a nationwide conspiracy being perpetrated by peers and ex-police officers. The fact that they wear suits and ties shouldn’t disguise the fact they’re nothing more than an organised criminal gang  who are sticking two fingers up at the majority of the population.  

Well over one hundred hunt masters attended these seminars and were treated to over three hours of lectures inciting them to commit criminal acts and perjure themselves when dealing with the police. 

It’s also hugely satisfying to hear them repeatedly admit how effective hunt saboteurs are. They know that we are the only people who stop them getting away with illegal hunting.”

The Hunt Saboteurs Association is the only organisation that directly intervenes to save wildlife. 
We are run completely by unpaid volunteers and rely entirely on our members and supporters to continue our work.

You can become a member here.

The full videos can be viewed here, if you have any problems, please try again later: 

Video 1 – can be watched here.
Video 2 – can be watched here.

Transcripts of video 1 can be read here:Download

Transcripts of video 2 can be read here:Download

 

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