Sabotage – a documentary

A documentary about the HSA, direct action and the response of the police.

Transcript – follow Read More link


Some international supporters of the HSA wanted a transcript of this film to assist translation, so we may as well put it up here!



Nathan Brown:I have been sabotaging hunts now for 12 or 13 years
[ horn blowing ]
The reason I go out to sabotage a hunt is because I know I can go out and save an animal’s life that day. I can very often see the animal i am saving and know exactly what I have done to save that animal’s life.

James Connolly: I suppose we first started to see the use of direct action in animal rights and so on over the last 20 years.
[huntsman with whip, saboteurs]

Tom Harris: Certain members of the RSPCA started being quite vocal about the issue of hunting and because the RSPCA at the time was, and it still is, a Royal Society and the vast majority of them are pro-hunt people were actually banished from the meetings for daring to say that hunting was wrong. They decided to actually go out into the fields and disrupt the hunt.
[saboteurs whooping and horn blowing]

Nathan Brown: The first hunt saboteurs appeared 40 years ago. December 1963, Boxing Day, the South Devon Hunt, and they used some smoke bombs and a few hunting horns. Basically the hunt called the day off as a result.

James Connolly: I suppose the thing that motivates people to use direct action is a sense of powerlessness in the face of governments who don’t seem to be responsive. And on the other hand a sense of moral outrage against a society which they don’t see as being responsive, A moral outrage directed against people who they see as being in some way doing something which is obviously reprehensible and wrong.

Keith Mann: I think what motivates most people, certainly what motivated me, to take direct action was the amount of suffering animals were being subjected to.

Nicci Tapping: People are given no choice but to take direct action and they do so because it works.
[horn blowing]

James Connolly: We can see this in the case of hunt sabotage and other sorts of environmental protest. I don’t think we would have had bills passing before the House of Commons unless there had been these protests.

Nicci Tapping: If we just stood outside Parliament with a banner every day saying “please ban foxhunting” you don’t get any results but if you go out in the fields and hunt saboteur, you know, you save lives every day. You get an immediate result.

James Connolly: Things which previously, in many cases, were not illegal have now been made illegal

Keith Mann: The law has been deliberately changed in order to make those actions illegal so it’s now illegal to do what we could do 10 [or] 15 years ago in the field because that kind of protesting was working.
[police and hunt sab]

Police: Listen what we’ll do is arrest you

Sab: Please stop pulling me. Please. Please stop pulling me

Footage from 14/2/04

Various: Get your f***ing hands off me, right! Get off me. Get off Are you gonna hit me? It’s getting quite nasty here

It’s amazing. You’re astounding me.I’m sure you all joined up didn’t you so they could kill wild animals. And this is it. There’s 12 of you here so they can kill one wild animal. It’s 4.30 in the afternoon . Why don’t you just tell them to piss off anf go home. You lot are going to be working all night cos you’re nicking us now. And you’re going to be working when we take you to court and sue you.

Luke, cameraman, Voice over: If you look closely in the right hand corner you will see the police officer push me to the floor after taking my tape. He gave no reason why he took my tape.

Luke (on phone): Hello. Could I speak to someone from the Police Complaints Authority please?

Luke (to camera): Okay I’m just going to go into Surrey Police station and ask where my tape is Voice over: What happened? Luke: Well, that wasn’t a great lot of help. The officer in charge who confiscated my tape isn’t available and he wasn’t available by phone. Um. No idea why it was seized. The onoly one who can comment on that is the officer so nothing really. Not much help at all. They’re gonna email him but what’s that going to do? He hasn’t got in contact with me yet so I hope that he will

Keith Mann: The law doesn’t work for protestors. Not in my experience. I desperately want for the law to work so I can protest legitimately, write to my MP, go on a demonstration, hand in a petition to change things but the law doesn’t work like that.

Police officer: She’s told me that she’s got citronella on her and i’ve taken it away.

Sab: Why have you taken it away from her?

Police officer: Because there’s a hunt in progress..

Sab: So. Why have you taken that. You haven’t got any right to take it away from her have you.

Police officer: I’ve taken it away from her, okay, cos that is used to disrupt the hunt

Police officer 2: We’ll allow you to have that back from the moment but be rest assured if it used to disrupt the hunt in any way or any other offensive way it will be seized off you.

Nathan Brown (voice over): The implementation of the law is very arbitrary. So what happens is, as happened in a recent case, police were out at a hunt. 40 officers. They spent all their time focussing on the hunt saboteurs, trying to stop them save lives, trying to use Aggravated Trespass clauses to prevent us getting on with our job. Meanwhile a hunt saboteur gets attacked by somebody from the hunt and the police fail to act.

Police officer: Make a decision now. Are you going to surrender that weapon and give us your details.

Sab: I do not have a weapon upon me.

Tom Harris: There’s a lot of cases where hunt saboteurs are actually better at controlling the hounds than the hunt themselves are.

Sab: Look. Look. It’s a home-made whip. See. For stopping hounds when they’re gonna run across a railway track or a busy road or when they are on a deer. Yeah?

Nicci Tapping: The law doesn’t work but we have become stronger.

James Connolly: Things which previously, in many cases, were not illegal have been made illegal and the punishments and so on and the attitude of the courts is correspondingly different. It’s made it harder, in a sense, harder to find people to take part, sometimes, in these direct forms of action because the consequences of doing so might be more extreme.

Tom Harris: Animals just basically want to be left alone the way they’ve been living together for thousands of years without human interference and for us to give them rights to feel we have the right is speciest.

James Connolly: [these] forms of protest, in general, are not likely to go away. Over the last 10 years we have in this country rediscovered protest as a new form of politics in a way. So, people who are often written off by politicians as being apathetic, very often the young, turn out not to be so apathetic, they just turn out to be keen on doing other things in other ways.

[music and credits]

Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required