Recently the Hunt Saboteurs Association exposed shocking footage of huntsman, Oliver Thompson, of the Old Berkshire Foxhounds who was filmed by his wife Felicity as they used a terrier to bait a terrified fox cub.
The video was apparently filmed in 2020, when Thompson was the Kennel Huntsman for the nearby and since-disbarred Avon Vale Hunt. At the time Thompson was living at Spye Park, in the on-site accommodation provided by the Avon Vale Hunt.
Since the exposé, the British Hounds Sport Association (BHSA) – formerly The Hunting Office – have issued a statement.
The BHSA claim to have only been aware of this since 28th April, despite the earlier rumours, which you think they would know about if they have any oversight of hunts as you would think would be part of their purpose. Alas no, the BHSA are claiming to be one of the last to know about the criminal activity of their members, despite the crimes taking place right in front of their eyes! Rumours of the arrests, phone and terrier seizures have been circulating for some time, as previously noted by the Hunt Saboteur Association.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. A lot more videos are known to exist, some of which have been seen by police on seized phones, and earlier this year a WhatsApp chat shared around hunts, warned anyone within hunting that police and RSPCA were “looking for damaged terriers”.
Thompson – along with his wife Felicity who was the one filming – returned to the Old Berks Hunt after leaving the Avon Vale in 2021. He had previously been a Whipper-in at the Old Berks in 2015-2018. Thompson’s wife’s family, wealthy and renowned farmers locally, are very close to the hunt – even allowing them on their land. It goes without saying that the Old Berks have pulled out the stops to protect their huntsman.
They have gone so far as to make their Hunt Ball this coming Saturday a celebration of Thompson’s time with the hunt. It is not unusual for departing hunt staff to be given a jolly send-off, with proceeds and collections on the night dedicated to the soon-to-be ex employee. The funds raised can typically run into thousands. Hunt subscribers have been asked to dig deep for the poor little boy from Manchester who married into wealth, then landed on his arse again, thanks to his wife filming and sharing his depraved lust for animal abuse. Thank goodness for the upper class networks his marriage has afforded him, to provide some cushioning from his fall from grace.
Interestingly Thompson was allowed to ‘resign’ despite bringing the Old Berks as well as hunting in general into (even more) disrepute with his criminal and cruel antics. Being ‘made to resign’ and ‘sacked’ are often the same thing, and in any case to reward Thompson for his crimes is more than enough evidence that it is not the crime they are horrified about, but rather trying to maintain the facade of trail hunting, and of course keeping this as quiet as they possibly could.
It no doubt also helps that the former Chair and a Master of the Old Berks Hunt is the current Chair of the BHSA – Lord William Astor, the 4th Viscount Astor, and father-in-law to former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. Friends in high places often come in handy when you’re in a big hole.
The BHSA says it has referred the matter to itself – their other arm of the organisation, which deals with disciplinary matters; the Hound Sports Regulatory Authority (HRSA), who have suspended Thompson as he awaits the outcome of the Police and RSPCA investigation and ‘any subsequent legal proceedings’.
It is also no surprise to find that this incident also involved the Avon Vale Hunt, the disbarred hunt, of which three of its members are facing Swindon Magistrates Court in July, charged with a combination of Hunting Act and Animal Welfare offences.
Whilst at the Avon Vale, Thompson even made it to the pages of the Daily Mail, after being captured on a video for his encouragement of an attack on a Bath Hunt Sabs Landrover by hunt Terriermen Ashley Louth and Rob Page.
A Hunt Saboteurs Association Spokesperson commented:
“The interconnected web woven by hunts and their governing body go to the very top of Government, and of course the Conservative Party. They are often the same people, and they will close ranks and look out for each other when one or another is caught out. Once again Hunt Sabs have exposed the inner workings of ‘trail hunts’ and the deceitful way hunting’s governing body attempts to hide its dirty secrets behind closed doors.
We know this footage is only the tip of the iceberg and that much more exists, we have always received intelligence from within hunting and guarantee 100% confidentiality to all sources – no matter what side of the hunting fence you sit on
Please send any footage to email@example.com , for larger files you can use the secure file transfer website Wetransfer”.