Thursday, January 07, 2010


Horse & Hound

Video surveillance of hunts by "hunt monitors" breaks human rights legislation, a judged has ruled.

The judge was presiding over a pre-trial review last month in a case that cannot yet be reported.

He ruled that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which allows police and local authorities to use undercover filming, also applies to anti-hunting groups.

Lawyer Jamie Foster, who is involved in the case, said this means antis must apply to the police for permission for any covert filming.

He said: "It had been assumed that the act only applied to councils or the police, but the judge ruled that covert filming by the League Against Cruel Sports [LACS] or International Fund for Animal Welfare must be licensed or it breaks article eight of the Human Rights Act — the right to privacy."

He added that for permission to be granted the groups would have to prove filming was "necessary and proportionate".

Tony Wright of the Exmoor hunt was the first huntsman in the country to be convicted under the Hunting Act. He was later acquitted.

He told H&H it was "about time" monitors were made to follow the rules.

He said: "I asked the police at the time what their view would be if I decided to follow one of their officers around all day filming what they were doing [like the antis did me]. They said they would take a very dim view of that."

Countryside Alliance spokesman Tim Bonner told H&H: "We have written to chief constables across the UK raising this issue. They cannot continue to use illegal video evidence in prosecutions under the Hunting Act.

"This is very bad news for IFAW and LACS — they claim the Hunting Act works and they can uphold it with covert surveillance, but this ruling takes away the final part of their anti-hunting strategy."

LACS spokesman Louise Robertson said: "It is our clear understanding, based on legal advice, that the activities of hunt observers such as those working for the League are not covered by RIPA as only public bodies are in fact covered by the act.

"If this were the case it would apply to initiatives like Neighbourhood Watch and effectively end the public assisting police in crime prevention."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has asked for guidance on the subject from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Read More Here

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Court Reporter A MURDER charge facing a pilot accused of killing a hunt supporter with the tail propeller of his gyrocopter could be thrown out.

Lawyers for Bryan Griffiths, accused of killing hunt supporter Trevor Morse at Long Marston airfield in March, are to apply for the murder charge against him to be dismissed. The charge follows an incident when 48-year-old Mr Morse, a hunt supporter from Alderminster, was struck by the rear propeller of the gyrocopter 54-year-old Griffiths, of Wiltshire Close, Bedworth, was piloting. It had landed to refuel at the airfield after being used to monitor a hunt in the area. Mr Morse, a self-employed gardener and a volunteer marshal for the Warwickshire Hunt, died ‘virtually immediately’ from severe head injuries after being struck by the tail propeller. Griffiths’ case was listed at Warwick Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing – but at the request of his barrister the murder charge was not put to him.
Peter Lownds, defending, explained that there was to be 'an application to dismiss' the murder charge so the case was adjourned and Griffiths was granted conditional bail. Mr Lownds asked Judge Richard Griffith-Jones to set a timetable for both the defence and prosecution to serve ‘skeleton arguments’ prior to a hearing at which the application to dismiss the charge will be made. The Judge pointed out the murder case must be heard by a High Court judge, and it had been released to him only for the plea and case management hearing. He ordered the defence should serve its argument by June 26, with the prosecution response to it by July 24, with a hearing on the application to dismiss the charges some time in October. Judge Griffith-Jones said: "The issue will be whether there is a prima facie case of murder. The issue of manslaughter will be another matter altogether." Mr Lownds confirmed there would still be a trial even if the defence application to dismiss the murder charge is successful. The Judge said the court staff would be asked to find a slot for the trial to take place, possibly at Birmingham Crown Court in January next year.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Daily Telegraph

OTIS Ferry is back where he is at his happiest: in the countryside surrounded by his five horses, his 60 hunting hounds and his three pet dogs. For the first time since the end of 2007, the man who says he prefers animals to people can relax in the knowledge that he does not have the threat of a lengthy prison sentence hanging over him.

Yet the eldest son of rock star Bryan Ferry and former model Lucy Helmore (now Birley) is in no mood for celebrating. "I don't feel like I have won the Olympic 100 metres title – more like I have survived a two-year marathon," he says.

Ferry, 26, who has inherited the good looks and quiet charm that led to his father being labelled the "coolest living Englishman", remains "sickened" that he was locked up for four months in a Category B prison with murderers, rapists and robbers, while awaiting trial on a charge of perverting the course of justice, which was later dropped.

The dismay of Prisoner RB7994 is not, however, directed at his fellow inmates, most of whom he says he liked, but at the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which he claims targeted him unfairly. "This has been politically motivated. I am a Tory-supporting master of foxhounds, and the current Government is anti everything that someone like me stands for. This is a socialist Government and I am the epitome of everything they detest.

"The police and Crown Prosecution Service were baying to screw me over as hard as they could. The Gloucestershire constabulary are notorious celebrity-hunters – not that I consider myself a 'celebrity'. I hate the word. The pressure from the Crown Prosecution was not normal. They put an enormous amount of effort and money into a bog-standard case."

It is not just Ferry and his supporters who think he was hard done by. Even the judge who had presided over his case after Ferry was accused of perverting the course of justice could not hide his anger at the defendant's treatment when the charge was dropped.

Ferry is no stranger to controversy, and has been arrested at least five times for his pro-countryside and hunting protests. In 2002, he was seized at 4am as he approached Tony Blair's constituency home "armed" with pro-hunting posters. Two years later, he led a famous assault on the House of Commons chamber when he and seven other pro-hunting protesters disrupted the parliamentary debate.

His latest woes began on November 21 2007 when he had been due to ride out with the South Shropshire Hunt, of which he is joint hunt master. Because his hounds were ill, Ferry called off his own hunt and, along with his girlfriend, Francesca Nimmo, and another huntsman drove to nearby Gloucestershire to ride out with the Heythrop Hunt.

However, he arrived late and was struggling to find the main group when he came across an incident in which a pro-hunt supporter clashed with two hunt monitors – widely known as "antis" or saboteurs to the hunting community.

What exactly happened next is disputed, but Ferry admits that he instinctively went to the aid of the pro-hunt supporter in his scuffle with two women who were seeking to gather evidence of a breach of the Hunting Act 2004.

Ferry, who is dressed in a check shirt and dark blue jeans, admits the hunt supporter had "lost the plot", verbally abusing the hunt monitors, before rocking their car and smashing a window. "I saw the video camera drop to the ground. I thought: 'I had better help this guy out.' I jumped off my horse, ran to the side of the car, picked up the camera and jumped on my horse again. Then I galloped up the road as quickly as I could with the camera gripped in my mouth because my hands were on the reins. I got 200 yards up the road and there was a police car. So I chucked the camera into the verge, opened the gate to a field, and rode off."

One of the hunt monitors claimed, however, that Ferry tried to grab the video camera from her and had won a "tug of war" for her car keys, leaving her upper right arm slightly bruised.

Ferry denies the tussle, but admits he later returned to recover the camera, wiped clear the film, and gave it to a member of the hunt so the camera could be returned to its owner.

Two days later, Ferry was asked to attend Shrewsbury police station after an officer said they had found his lost Jack Russell puppy, Tiny. Yet when he arrived, he was arrested in connection with the Gloucestershire incident, and put in a police cell. Ferry was angry: "Of all the tricks to play. If they had wanted to question or arrest me, all they needed to do was ring me up."

Ferry was taken by police car to Gloucester police station, where he was interviewed and, later, released. In April last year, Ferry was charged with robbery and common assault and a trial date was set for September. Matters then escalated from bad to worse for Ferry, the eldest of four brothers, who was educated at Marlborough College before leaving school after passing 11 GCSEs.

Ferry says he received a mobile message from an anonymous texter just days before the trial, saying that he or she was going to be interviewed by the police. Ferry says he rang the number out of curiosity and found himself speaking to his former groom, David Hodgkiss. He says he was puzzled that Hodgkiss had contacted him, but was unperturbed, especially as the groom had not witnessed the dispute. However, when the police turned up to take the statement, Hodgkiss told them he had been warned by Ferry not to give evidence against him.

Days later, on the first morning of Ferry's robbery and assault trial, Hodgkiss's statement was revealed to the court. The hearing was adjourned until the next day when Ferry was again arrested, this time on suspicion of perverting the course of justice through "witness nobbling". He was interviewed at Stroud police station and, at the insistence of the CPS, refused bail and detained overnight in a police cell. The next day in court, the prosecution lawyer again opposed bail on the grounds that Ferry might re-offend. Judge Martin Picton remanded Ferry in custody, which meant he had to go to Gloucester prison, a Category B institution that houses murders, rapists and violent criminals.

"This really sent a shiver down my spine," says Ferry. "I was handcuffed and booked into this prison with 400 other people. I was absolutely petrified because I had no idea what I might be up against."

Initially, he thought he would be in his single cell for just a night. But the jail was to become his home for the next four months.

In his 12ft-by-7ft cell, he had a bed, sink, lavatory and colour television. "The first week was a blur. I just could not believe that this was happening to me."

His worst moments were changing from his prison uniform – a grey tracksuit – into his suit to go to court expecting to be released on bail, only to be returned to jail: "Going to court to be denied bail is one of the most crushing experiences anyone will ever experience. It happened to me four times and was completely soul-destroying."

After a week in jail, his first visitors were his girlfriend and mother. It was an emotional experience for everyone. "For me, the tears were not about my predicament but how embarrassing it was to be seen in that state: reduced to wearing prison uniform, anchored to a table wearing a prison bib. I felt particularly for my mum, seeing her son totally defensive and helpless. Every part of you is stripped and you become a number, a nothing."

Ferry spent his 26th birthday and Christmas in prison, though he was grateful on Christmas Eve to have a visit from his 63-year-old father, the former lead singer of Roxy Music, whose hits include Dance AwayAvalon and Jealous Guy. "Dad was a bit tougher about it all than mum. I was very touched that he came. I didn't think he would – not out of disloyalty, but because it's a demeaning place to have to come and see your son. If you are in the public eye, you are very image conscious, quite rightly. But I was delighted to see him."

Typically, Ferry spent more than 20 hours a day alone in his cell, reading and writing letters (he had more than 400 from well-wishers to reply to). Every other evening, one half of the prison block had "association", during which prisoners had the chance to play table tennis or pool. "I have never played with such a bunch of cheats – they were worse than my brothers," he jokes.

Ferry liked most of the "screws" – the prison officers – but complained some were "chippy, unhelpful and lazy". While he was never attacked or threatened, he admits that he benefited from having "Trevor" as his "next-door neighbour". "He was the most feared man in the prison – a black guy, aged about 40, on remand for attempted robbery. He was a colourful character but was very nice to me and a nice person. I got on well with him. Prisons are full of people who have simply made a bad decision at some point in their lives. There was a great feeling of camaraderie. Unless you are a child molester, everyone is seen as an equal."

Ferry found that most prisoners were pro-hunting. "I hope I did a good PR job for the hunting community – and public schoolboys." He says that fellow prisoners offered him drugs – there was an abundance of cannabis and heroin in the jail. It was an offer he found easy to decline.

In January, after four months in jail, Ferry's lawyers persuaded the judge to released him on bail subject to a £25,000 surety, a pledge to live with his mother in west London, and Ferry reporting to the police twice a week. Two months later, the prosecution indicated in court that it was unhappy with witness "inconsistencies" relating to the perverting the course of justice charge against Ferry. This incensed Judge Martin Picton, who described Ferry's custody as "nonsensical and farcical".

Finally, nine days ago, the Crown accepted Ferry's pleas of not guilty to robbery and common assault charges. He admitted a public order offence and was given a one-year conditional discharge for causing "fear, stress and upset" to one of the hunt monitors. He was also fined £350 with £100 costs. Today, he concedes he was responsible for an "error of judgement" and regrets getting involved in the dispute.

Gloucestershire police and the CPS deny targeting Ferry unfairly. "He was treated the same as any other member of the public," says a spokesman. "The decision to investigate alleged offences was made by professional, seasoned officers."

A spokesman for the CPS says: "Mr Ferry's case was kept under review and dealt with according to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, in the same way as every other case that the CPS deals with."

Although Bryan Ferry is worth millions, his eldest son lives a modest existence. Unpaid for his role as hunt master, Otis
lives alone in a two-bedroom cottage, occasionally selling horses, modelling and writing for a living. He drives an ageing green Mercedes estate, and his parents help him out by paying the odd bill.

Ferry is unclear about his future but remains committed to country pursuits. "I love animals more than people," he says. "I have always been fascinated by the countryside." He admires foxes but says hunting is important for conservation, as it picks off the weakest, oldest animals, unlike shooting, which can kill a fox in its prime.

He says the countryside feels "betrayed, victimised and cheated" by the Government, and, as a Conservative supporter, he is now tempted to pursue a career in politics.

"Hunting is like religion in the countryside. I don't think there is anything I could enjoy more than running my hounds and the hunt. The question I now have to answer is whether I feel I have an obligation to other people to try to safeguard rural traditions."

Read More Here

Friday, May 15, 2009


The Times

Police forces are to stop monitoring hunts in a change of policy that sounds the death knell for the hunting ban, The Times has learnt.

New guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) states that gathering evidence of illegal hunting is difficult, that the ban is hard to enforce and that chief constables have more pressing priorities.

In future, forces should rely on anti-hunt activists to produce information, it says. But they should also be “very cautious” of such groups and recognise that hunting is an “emotionally charged” subject.

Hunts will also no longer be required to inform police in advance of the time and place of meets and their planned route.

Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable of North Wales and the Acpo spokesman on rural affairs, said: “Hunting is definitely not a policing priority. It is not illegal to wear a red coat and ride a horse in a public place.”

The new guidance undermines one of the most controversial pieces of legislation introduced by the Labour Government, which took up 700 hours of parliamentary time.

Since the Hunting Act came into force in 2004, there have been eight prosecutions, of which only three have been successful, with one pending. Hunting has thrived.

Mr Brunstrom said that police had to chose which areas of law enforcement to devote scarce resources to. He said: “If you look at hunting, the penalties do not include a prison sentence for offenders. This puts the Hunting Act to the lower rather than the higher end of offences. Parliament had the chance to include imprisonment as a sentence but did not do so.”

The new guidance is not binding but was unanimously approved by the country’s most senior officers this week. Officers are urged to avoid “acrimonious, time consuming, frustrating and ultimately fruitless activity”.

Senior officers expressed concern that their neutrality had been compromised by being forced to release details of meets through freedom of information requests to activists who had gone on to disrupt hunts.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has made it clear that he favours a repeal of the Hunting Act and in the event of a general election victory will offer MPs a free vote in government time, although a backbencher would have to produce a Bill.

Mr Brunstrom said: “I am pleased with the new guidance but hunting is definitely not a policing priority and don’t let me give you the impression it is. But that does not mean we are not going to deal with it. We recognise it is the law of the land and the duty of the police to enforce it — but to do so proportionately and according to priorities.”

Mr Brunstrom said that forces needed a consistent approach in dealing with reports of unlawful hunting.He also raised concerns about militants becoming involved with anti-hunt organisations and said that police had to be cautious when people made complaints to them. He outlined the difficulties facing police. “If there are offences they are likely to be taking place in a remote rural environment. We are not very well equipped to follow hunts and get evidence and nor do we think we can justify it. Pursuing hunts is an expensive and sophisticated operation.”

He accepted the need to train more police in hunt investigations and said he hoped that the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance and the RSPCA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the League Against Cruel Sports would attend training seminars to give their views. A hunt investigation manual is to be distributed to forces before the autumn season.

The Countryside Alliance said: “We have always understood what a difficult job the police have in dealing with such a confusing piece of legislation. But the guidance suggests that the sort of engagement some police forces have had with animal rights groups should, quite rightly, be avoided.”

A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sport said: “We fought for 80 years for the hunting ban and, while we accept it is not a high priority for police, a ban was the will of Parliament and is the will of the people and we are going to press for more prosecution cases to be brought.”

Read More Here

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Daily Telegraph

Nigel Bell, 53, from the Wick and District Beagles, admitted the breach after he was filmed chasing the animal by anti-hunt monitors in February this year.

It is the first time anti-hunt campaigners have successfully brought a case against a hare hunt under the Act which was introduced in 2004, the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) claimed.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed Bell was cautioned on April 29 at Thornbury police station in connection with the incident on land between Horton and Badminton, in South Gloucestershire.

A spokeswoman for LACS said: "Although a caution may seem like he has been let off, it is actually a very helpful step forward in our fight against illegal hunters.

"What this demonstrates is that the Hunting Act is clear and enforceable and, furthermore, hunters know this to be the case. It is also apparent that the police are aware of what the law entails.

"This latest victory has been the result of the dedication and commitment of League monitors, and under caution it will be very difficult for Mr Bell to get off lightly on any further breaches of the Act.

"In light of the fact there currently exists more than 100 beagle packs, the incident involving Mr Bell will compel huntsmen next season to adhere to the law."

The Wick and District Beagles is a relatively small hunting pack that follows beagle hounds on foot and, pre-ban, traditionally hunted hares rather than foxes or deer.

Based in South Gloucestershire, outside Bristol, it is well-known for bringing beagles to various country shows around the region.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: "We have investigated a couple of allegations of hunting wild animals with dogs, initially reported in January this year in Horton.

"In connection with that incident, a 53-year-old man was given an adult caution on April 29 at Thornbury police station."

Read More Here

Friday, April 10, 2009


Westmorland Gazette

A LOCAL huntsman has lashed out at Cumbria Policefollowing the revelation that officers have received training from an animal rights group.

Cumbria Constabulary confirmed that several of it’s officers received “briefings” from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) - a group that campaigned for the hunting ban.

The information was revealed after the Countryside Alliance put in a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Richard Dodd, chairman of the Countryside Alliance in the north west, said the finding has led farmers, landowners and huntsmen to lose confidence in the constabulary.

“Farmers will now say the policeman is his foe rather than a friend,” he said. “If ever there was an own goal scored the police have done it. The IFAW are linked to animal terrorists. This is like asking Al Queda to provide the police with training on counter-terrorism.

“The hunting community is regularly tackled by some of these activists. They turn up at legal hunts and try to provoke an argument with hunt officials. These are not little games they’re playing. They are nasty people with a political agenda.”

Hunts in Cumbria are often monitored by the police and Chief Constable Craig Mackey said advice from the IFAW was received simply to “gain a thorough understanding of all the issues involved.”

Mr Mackey said officers have liased with landowners, residents, hunt monitors, anti-hunting groups, members of the Countryside Alliance and IFAW so that policing of hunting events is “unbiased and proportionate.”

"The briefings provided by the IFAW were an extension of this learning process and other police forces have received identical input,” he said. “The views of the IFAW inform our approach; they do not direct them.”

Mr Mackey said he would be happy for the Countryside Alliance to provide a similar briefing session to officers but Mr Dodd said there were no plans to do this.

In a statement, IFAW claimed to be responding to a request from a regional force to assist with enforcement of the Hunting Act. It said it had provided guidance on the legislation and information on how to spot an illegal hunt.

It said that since the enforcement of the Hunting Act four years ago it has “responded to requests from the Association of Chief Police Officers and various regional forces to assist with enforcement of the Act.

“The police have recognised that IFAW has relevant expertise and knowledge about hunting based on years of peaceful monitoring of hunts in the field.”

The Conservative Party has announced its intention to hold a free vote on the Hunting Act if it wins the next election.

Mr Dodd believes there will be enough support for a repeal, commenting that the Act is “a proper dog’s breakfast.”

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


BBC Today

As the final legal fox hunts took place before the ban became law in 2005, the mood among hunters was despondent.

There were gloomy predictions - interest in the sport would wane, thousands of hounds would have to be shot and hunt staff would be out of a job. Three hundred years of tradition were being wiped out, said hunt supporters.

But there was defiance too, with the Countryside Alliance vowing to overturn what it called a "temporary ban".

Four years on and the naysayers have been proved wrong. Not a single hunt has gone out of business, there are twice as many registered hounds as there were three years ago and - according to the Alliance - the number of people hunting is up by 11%.

With the Conservatives ahead of Labour in the opinion polls - and promising a free vote on the Hunting Act if they win the next election - supporters of hunting say repeal is now a probability rather than a possibility.

"It was as if the ceiling was falling in," says Nicky Sadler from the lobby group, Vote OK.

"We didn't know if hunting would survive. But today hunting is in very good shape, people are buoyant - and we're looking at a realistic possibility of repeal."

Vote OK was set up to target anti-hunting MPs in marginal seats. It operates from a farm in rural Gloucestershire - near David Cameron's Witney constituency.

Nicky Sadler estimates that they helped to oust 29 MPs in 2005 and says they'll target more than 140 constituencies in the next general election - expected to be in the spring of 2010.

"We're completely colour blind, it doesn't matter what party people represent. As long as they sign up to repeal of the Hunting Act, we'll support them," she says.

Political hunt

One supporter in the House of Commons is shadow justice minister Edward Garnier. He is the chairman of the Repeal Committee of the Countryside Alliance, which includes influential figures from politics and hunting.

  •  18 February 2005 Ban on hunting a wild animal with dogs comes into force in England and Wales
  •  October 2005 BBC survey finds that more people are taking part in fox hunting than before the ban
  •  November 2007 Law Lords reject the Countryside Alliance's legal challenge to the ban on hunting with hounds
  •  Boxing Day 2008 A record 6,000 people attend the traditional Oxford Boxing Day hunt
  •  March 2009 Charges are dropped against Julian Barnfield, who would have been the first professional huntsman to be prosecuted for hunting a fox
  • A practising QC, Mr Garnier argues that the Hunting Act is "unfair and unworkable", citing a recent High Court judgement - which upheld an appeal from the first huntsman to be convicted of breaching the Act.

    "This is a bad law - it is unclear, it is unfair and it is inept," he says.

    "It's not producing the results which the proponents of it thought it would. It seems to me that no parliament can bind its successors and I have every right and every intention to address that issue and to make sure that we have a far better system of criminal law."

    But given that the next election will be held in the context of deep economic crisis, are voters really going to be interested in the Hunting Act? Edward Garnier admits that it's the recession that's keeping people awake at night - but says the time is right to do the groundwork for repeal.

    "I do think there is a real opportunity and I'm determined that that opportunity should arise in which Parliament can look at this issue again - and repeal the Hunting Act."

    That stance has angered animal welfare groups, including the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports - which argue that the law is both fair and enforceable.

    The League Against Cruel Sports maintains that the recent High Court judgement was a victory for clarity in the law, setting out clear guidelines for the police to enforce the Act.

    The League's chief executive, Douglas Batchelor, says the pro-hunting lobby has put its own gloss on the court's decision.

    "It has continually criticised the legislation because it goes against their desire to kill for fun," he says.

    "Parliament has already spent 700 hours on the hunting issue and has ended up with an Act which does away with the cruelty of chasing animals for fun before they're killed.

    "That was a huge step forward - and the general public agree."

    He is warning the Conservatives that any attempt to get the Act repealed will put the party back where the then chairman, Theresa May, put them in 2002 - when she said it was sometimes perceived by the public as the "nasty party".

    "This just doesn't make political sense. I can see why - because of some of their traditional support base - they might be toying with the issue, but I would suggest that, having toyed with it, they put it firmly back in the toy cupboard and don't touch it again."

    Read More Here

    Thursday, March 26, 2009


    Two people arrested on public order offences while "monitoring" the Surrey Union Hunt have been charged.

    The pair were arrested at around 1pm on 28 February, when a number of protestors — from a group of around 17 following the hunt which met at Leigh, Surrey — donned facemasks and scarves.

    Tiff Clelland, 34, of Albert Road, Brighton, has been charged with aggravated trespass, and David Marriott, 18, of no fixed abode, has been charged with public order offences.

    Both have been released on bail to appear at South East Surrey Magistrates Court on Friday 17 April.

    Read More Here

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009


    Horse & Hound

    Charges of illegal hunting have been dropped against Heythrop huntsman Julian Barnfield.

    The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today dropped the high-profile case against Mr Barnfield. The huntsman was charged with four offences of hunting a fox, relating to incidents between November 2008 and February 2009.

    The decision comes after the CPS announced it had no plans to appeal a High Court ruling that effectively weakened the Hunting Act 2004.

    Mr Barnfield told H&H: "It's now becoming apparent that it's an unworkable law, that shouldn't have happened in the first place."

    The High Court ruled in February that "searching" for a mammal was not hunting, and that hunting could only be an "intentional" activity.

    Mr Barnfield's solicitor, Tim Hayden, said: "My client had been engaged in lawful trail hunting, which had been wrongly interpreted to be unlawful hunting by the prosecution.

    "Hopefully the recent High Court decision will help to ensure those people who take part in lawful hunting will not be wrongly suspected to be unlawfully hunting in future."

    Julian Barnfield added: "Hunt staff are under a lot of pressure, and when you're filmed day-in-day-out, it's not easy to do your job."

    Read More Here



    Otis Ferry was told yesterday that witness-nobbling charges, for which he had already spent four months in jail, were likely to be dropped in what a judge described as a “farcical” development.

    Mr Ferry, the son of Bryan Ferry of the rock group Roxy Music, had been remanded in custody to stand trial on charges of robbing a hunt monitor, assault and perverting the course of justice by interfering with a witness.

    But yesterday, the 26-year-old joint master of the South Shropshire hunt learnt at Gloucester Crown Court that the latter charge was likely to be abandoned over “inconsistencies”.

    Martin Picton, the judge, described the situation as “nonsensical and farcical”. He had abandoned the original robbery and assault trial in September and remanded Mr Ferry in custody – upon pressure from the Crown Prosecution Service – after hearing the perverting the course of justice allegation. The judge called for Kerry Barker, the prosecution lawyer, who was not in court, to appear before him to give a full explanation.

    Mr Ferry and John Deutsch, 55, of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, were charged jointly with robbing Helen Ghalmi, a hunt monitor, of a camera and assaulting her during a meeting of the Heythrop Hunt near Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, in November 2007. They also face alternative charges of affray.

    Mr Ferry had also been accused of perverting the course of justice by telling his former groom, David Hodgkiss, not to give evidence against him when Mr Ferry was due to stand trial at Cirencester Crown Court. That trial was aborted when the witness-nobbling allegations were made.

    Police investigating this allegation then arrested three other people, including Mr Ferry’s girlfriend, Francesca Nimmo, and Adrian Simpson, the Welsh director of the Countryside Alliance, on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. They remain on police bail.

    At yesterday’s hearing Stephen Dent, prosecuting, said: “There has been a lot of painstaking police work carried out as far as the perverting the course of justice charges are concerned and it has been looked at very carefully. Those inquiries reveal a number of inconsistencies which mean that the Crown at the moment offers no evidence on that count.” But Judge Picton said: “At some point I shall want rather more than this by way of explanation because I remanded Mr Ferry in custody for over four months on the basis that there was a perverting the course of justice charge being pursued. There were vigorous objections to bail raised on the grounds of that.”

    The prosecution still intends to call Mr Hodgkiss to give evidence in the robbery trial, despite the apparent inconsistencies in his account of the alleged witness-nobbling, though Judge Picton questioned how the defence could understand which parts of Mr Hodgkiss’s evidence were considered true and which not. Annie Johnston, for Mr Ferry, said she had understood that the Crown would formally offer no evidence against him on the perverting the course of justice charge. In fact, she said, Mr Ferry had even been asked by the prosecution if he would be prepared to give evidence against Mr Hodgkiss should he instead be charged with perverting justice.

    Judge Picton said he found it breathtaking that the prosecution had reached its present situation after the case had been “vegetating a long time”.Bailing Mr Ferry and Mr Deutsch, he told them: “I am adjourning your case. I can’t tell you until when.”



    A keen hunt supporter has been killed after being hit by a gyrocopter believed to have been monitoring hunts in the area.

    Trevor Morse, 48, died after the incident at Long Marston airfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, yesterday. Two men were arrested on suspicion of murder and were being questioned by officers in Leamington Spa last night.

    Between 80 and 100 huntsmen were out yesterday at the hunt in Moreton-in-Marsh on the last day of the Warwickshire hunt season. The hunt met at the village of Todenham at 11.45am and the gyrocopter, first spotted at noon, followed it for about two hours.

    It is understood that an animal rights group, Protect Our Wild Animals, has been monitoring the Warwickshire and the Heythrop hunts from a gyrocopter over the past three weeks. Masters of the hunt told The Times that a gyrocopter had been reported to the Civil Aviation Authority and the police about ten days ago, amid fears that it was upsetting animals. The light aircraft was said to have been swooping in an aggressive manner over the hunt.

    The police could not confirm last night whether the same gyrocopter was involved in the accident. The identity of the pilot remained unknown and it was unclear whether any other passenger was on board.

    Civil Aviation Authority records show that Bryan Griffiths, of Bed-worth, is the registered owner of the gyrocopter involved in the fatal accident. There is no indication that he was one of those arrested.

    Emergency services were called to the airfield just after 3pm yesterday after reports of a collision involving an aircraft and a pedestrian. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. It is believed that Mr Morse had gone with a friend to the airfield to try to discover who had been piloting the gyrocopter. He and a woman were believed to have approached the aircraft as it was refuelling.

    The airfield manager, Anthony Hodges, 57, said: “It was the only aircraft to land all day and I believe the aircraft hit him as it was taxiing on the runway.”

    Alastair Jackson, director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, said that he had written two letters to Thames Valley Police after complaints by riders of the Warwickshire Hunt. “There has been a bit of trouble for the last three weeks involving the Warwickshire and Heythrop Hunts and there have been lots of complaints from riders and farmers concerned about their livestock and horses being frightened,” he said. “We had great concerns there would be an accident involving a horse or farmstock, but no one dreamt of anything like this.”

    Members of the hunt paid tribute to Mr Morse, a gardener and odd-job man from Alderminster, near Ship-ston-on-Stour. Although not a rider, he was said to enjoy following the hunt in his Land Rover and helping out with the hounds. His wife, Caroline, would not comment last night.

    Sam Butler, joint master of the Warwickshire Hunt, said: “Trevor was a countryman of the highest quality. We have lost a friend of the highest order.”

    He said that a gyrocopter had been following the hunting activity for three weeks, but would not be drawn on who was piloting it or their motives. “All I can say is that they did not appear to be hunt supporters,” he said.

    West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “On arrival at the scene crews found a pedestrian that had been in collision with an aircraft. Crews immediately assessed the pedestrian, a man, but unfortunately nothing could be done to save him and he was confirmed dead at the scene.”

    Penny Little, spokeswoman for Protect Our Wild Animals, was unavailable for comment last night. The group’s website says that it “advocates the observance of hunts by use of video and stills cameras to record the cruelty and vandalism of hunting”.

    A gyrocopter, also known as an auto-gyro or rotaplane, is a type of small helicopter that can fly slower and lower than regular sport aircraft. It is forbidden to fly them lower than 500ft.

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    Thursday, March 05, 2009


    Surrey Mirror

    Foxhunting saboteurs were arrested after masked protesters stormed a hunt at the weekend.

    The two people were part of a 20-strong group who attempted to force their way onto private land near Betchworth to monitor the Surrey Union Hunt (SUH).

    About 40 riders and 100 supporters were met by demonstrators wearing camouflaged jumpsuits, face masks and scarves.

    A 34-year-old woman from Brighton and an 18-year-old man of no fixed address were arrested on suspicion of public order offences.

    A police spokeswoman said: "Officers ordered demonstrators to remove the items concealing their faces.

    "Two refused and became abusive towards the police and were arrested."

    SUH said the arrests, made at 1pm on Saturday, were the culmination in a series of sabotaged hunt meetings over the past few weeks, which had become increasingly violent.

    A SUH spokesman, who would not be named for fear of reprisals, said: "They were asked by a representative of the landowner not to enter but they tried to force their way past.

    "It became clear that there was going to be trouble and the police stepped in. Instead of co-operating with officers they became abusive."

    He added: "When you have people running around with face masks and being intimidating and abusive it is quite alarming."

    Saboteurs from Brighton and London as well as those from the local area arrived to disrupt the hunt.

    The protesters said they believe SUH had been hunting illegally, a claim vigorously denied by the hunt.

    John Davis, 39, a hunt saboteur, from Brighton, said: "We were there to make sure they were not hunting [foxes with hounds].

    "They say they are just trail hunting but when our backs are turned we think they start fox-hunting again."

    The two people arrested were released on police bail pending further inquiries.

    Friday, December 26, 2008


    The Times

    A tribunal to deal with any wrongdoing by huntsmen and women would be set up if the law that prohibits hunting with hounds were repealed under a Conservative government.

    It would have the power to fine, suspend and even ban people from taking part if they were found to have broken the rules or brought hunting into disrepute.

    Under the system, approved by hunting chiefs, any rogue hunter would face the prospect of a double trial and penalty – any breaches of animal welfare or criminal laws could still lead to prosecution.

    The plan, which is still being finalised, has been drawn up by a “repeal committee” of hunting chiefs and parliamentarians, chaired by the Conservative MP Edward Garnier, QC.

    The tribunal would probably be headed by an independent person, perhaps a retired judge or senior civil servant, and funded by contributions from every hunt. It would deal with complaints about trespass and nuisance and any allegations about hunt staff breaking rules, such as using terriers to dig out foxes.

    David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, has made clear that if he becomes prime minister he will offer a free vote in government time for repeal of the four-year-old hunting ban.

    A recent survey by the Countryside Alliance, a pressure group, found that of 120 Tory candidates in marginal seats only one was against repealing the ban and he said that he would abstain on any vote.

    Some hunt members see no need to repeal the legislation as hunts have revived since the ban and can operate within the law by following artificial trails, organising hound exercise clubs or hunting with a bird of prey.

    Mr Garnier, however, is adamant that the law must be repealed,though he acknowledges that public concerns must be addressed. The MP, the party’s justice spokesman, is chairing the repeal committee in a personal capacity. He does not hunt but represents prime hunting territory in Leices-tershire and supports his local hunts, the Fernie and the Cottesmore.

    “I take the view it is not satisfactory to have a law, and especially a criminal law, under which people can be sent to prison or fined when to a large extent it is not accepted in the geographical areas where it’s supposed to bite,” he said. “Lots of people in rural areas think this law is designed to get at them and they find it offensive. What we are trying to do on the repeal committee is to ensure there is a perfectly acceptable way forward.

    “This is not just about undoing the ban and nothing else, but this is to provide a system that would act as a deterrent against bad behaviour but also one that offers protection for those who hunt within the law and to protect them from false accusations.”

    The tribunal could deal with complaints from people about huntsmen “parking on verges and crushing daffodils” and bring speedy redress, whether in compensation or payment to repair damage and an apology.

    Mr Garnier admitted that the plan could fail even with a Conservative victory. “We are not so arrogant as to think that what we are doing is going to happen and that even if we come up with a watertight and sensible scheme that the wider public will think it is a good thing,” he said. “But I hope we are exercising sensitivity and common sense and not getting ahead of ourselves. We will be responsive to public concerns and the political landscape and we are acutely aware of pubic concerns about welfare and cruelty.”

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