It’s just as well that Covid has stopped hunts going out because a lot of their staff had to appear in court this week.
Yesterday, Mark Hankinson, Director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, appeared via video link at Westminster magistrates court to answer a charge of giving advice on how to conceal illegal hunting. The case relates to Hunting Office training webinars leaked to the HSA. Hankinson plead ‘Not Guilty’ and his trial has been adjourned to September 20th, 2021.
Also pleading ‘Not Guilty’ – this time to a charge of breaking the Hunting Act 2004 – were Quorn huntsman John ‘Ollie’ Finnegan and former whipper-in Rhys Matcham, whose case management hearing today set a trial date trial for 24th and 25th August 2021. Matcham has since left the Quorn and is now with Lord Mancroft’s Beaufort Hunt.
When these two cases go to trial, we hope they will be handled better than the fiasco that unfolded at Worthing Magistrates Court today.
Crawley & Horsham huntsman, William Bishop, was acquitted of two Hunting Act charges at the court. The first count was thrown out when the bungling CPS failed to send video footage to the defence; the second failed when the judge couldn’t understand why other hunters weren’t in the dock! An acquittal of any kind is a rarity for the Crawley & Horsham: they are Britain’s most convicted hunt, with a host of Hunting Act and public order offences to their name.