Tim’s Memory Clouded By Smokescreens?

Yesterday’s men: Mark Hankinson, Tim Bonner and friends know the game is up.

Here at HSA Towers, we are used to hearing hunters come up with delusional theories, far fetched stories and generally bonkers alternative realities. However, last week their fantasist-in-chief the factually challenged Mr Tim Bonner, came out with an impressive pack of fibs on his personal venting platform, the Countryside Alliance blog.

Writing to his keen audience of shotgun polishers, Bonner cast back to the watershed moment in hunting’s terminal decline, the court judgement against Mark Hankinson in 2021 at Westminster Magistrates. This three-day trial involved comprehensive video evidence, resulting in the conviction of the Director of the Hunting Office for encouraging and assisting people to hunt illegally.

Yesterday’s men: Mark Hankinson, Tim Bonner and friends know the game is up.

The case was reported widely across the media; however Tim Bonner’s memory of the case seems to have faded over the last few years, which is odd considering he was present in the gallery for the whole of the proceedings. Let’s take a brief look at what Tim believes was said, and help out by pointing him back towards the truth…

Tim Bonner on whether Hankinson did anything wrong:

“In acres of transcripts, Mr Hankinson had never suggested that people should break the law”

What was actually heard in court:

Hankinson is quoted saying: “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 advised that trail laying should be “plausible” and called the bird of prey exemption “a terribly good wheeze”.

Tim Bonner on whether a Judge is free to make closing comments on their case:

“(Judge Ikram) also launched an extraordinary attack on a number of other individuals whose words the prosecution relied on to condemn Mr Hankinson, despite them not having any charges brought against them or any right to reply.”

What actually happened:

While only Hankinson was summoned to court to answer charges against him, the defence barrister could have called any of these individuals to help fight his corner. The fact that they chose not to request a single one of them to attend to court, and risk a damaging cross examination, speaks volumes.

The “other individuals”, Bonner is referring to here – in case we need reminding – were in fact the supporting actors in Hankinson’s feature film (and whose words were heard in court as evidence).

These were of course, ‘Lord’ Benjamin Mancroft (who said “hunts should be very careful about what they’re recording and only record the legal things”), Richard Gurney (who advised his audience his trail laying advice was “not intended to turn the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent into a trail laying pack”) and ex-police officer Paul Jelley who memorably advised hunts to use burner phones for their “evidence gathering” to make sure that police “don’t get both sides of it”.

Lord Mancroft out with the Beaufort Hunt.
Lord Mancroft out with the Beaufort Hunt. Image © Wiltshire Hunt Sabs.

All in all, it seems Tim Bonner has had a rough few years, desperately trying in vain to save hunting’s reputation from scandal after scandal and frantically spinning every subsequent hunt closure as good news of some sorts. Perhaps we can forgive his failing memory as a symptom of the stress he has been under.

Or perhaps he is simply doing what comes naturally to hunters, lying through his teeth. We will likely never know.

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