Today on the Hunting Leaks website a document that showed how the Sinnington hunt have clearly been using trail hunting as a smokescreen was published, this hunt has a very dark history.
Back in 1998 when Andrew Osborne (incoming chair of MFHA & friend of Joss Hanbury) was with the Sinnington, they were found to be rearing cubs in closed off artificial earths. Has much changed since then?
The document is a precis from one of the hunts hierarchy of the Hunting Office AGM, relaying what they’ve learnt.
“Last season I believe we were remarkably lucky not to receive any visits from the saboteurs or police but we would be complacent to believe this will continue. As part of this process I attended the MFHAs AGM, an evening seminar on dealing with Saboteurs and a days training on trail laying with Libby.”
That hunt saboteurs and the police are interestingly viewed as a common enemy. But the hunt hasn’t been taught anything about how sabs actually behave, because if they did, they wouldn’t think they were safe from sabs if they enter a valley and it is monitors that film hunts usually.
“What we do have is a topography which I believe makes it easier for us to comply and more difficult for our opponents to disrupt. The flat low country makes the use of the long lense more difficult to be effective and the deep wooded valleys of the High side again difficult to get effective photo shots and access for Saboteurs.”
What follows is a remarkably candid confession that hunts are regularly being targeted by sabs, because they hunt foxes!
“There are two distinct threats every Hunt needs to be prepared for hunting in 2019 post the ban.
An accusation of illegal hunting usually accompanied by a visit from the police.
A visit from the Saboteurs
To be able to demonstrate effective trail hunting is the defence to both of these often-interlinked events.
Put in its simplest of terms the saboteurs have a history of if they visit a Hunt and find they are blatantly illegally hunting then getting latched on and returning.”
The admissions of guilt continue, there is no way a hunt can “increase” it’s trail laying, it either lays trails or it doesn’t, this hunt it seems doesn’t.
“Effective trail laying and record keeping lies at the heart of what we need to do. We have only needed to pay lip service to this activity in the past but from the way our opponents have raised their game in recent years we need to do the same. I don’t think there is much need for us at this stage to radically change how we go about our day although we do need to improve our record keeping and trail laying something Libby and I believe we can effectively do without creating more work for the masters or disrupting what we do.”
To understand the next sentence, it is worth checking what “holding up” means. It is difficult to understand how the practice of surrounding a wood with the followers on horseback to stop foxes escaping whilst the young hounds learn to kill fox cubs, can still continue, but it does and obviously it’s not easy to explain if you say you are following a trail.
“I do however think we should may review whether we are sensible to hold up in autumn hunting and the risks this poses.”
The reasons why you have to lay a trail are then revealed in detail, is it because fox hunting is illegal? No, unless someone is watching..
Every form of defence starts here:
In dealing with the police
Validation legal expenses insurance
In the event of a court prosecution
Convincing the Saboteurs you are not breaking the law and in turn turning them away from us
There is no required blueprint and it is acknowledged that different Hunts practise different approaches and what works best for them in terms of what resources they have available and the level of scrutiny they are under.
At one end of the spectrum you have The Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent who have the sabs every Saturday and the other packs who may be have only had them once in a blue moon. This has taught them to effectively switch between the use of an artificial scent and the hunting the real thing.”
Paul Jelley the ex police man famous for encouraging people to use burner phones and not to write anything incriminating on social media, has explained more in this 2019 AGM, what he is doing is encouraging people to pervert the cause of justice and to help them make fake insurance claims, you can see why they asked a retired officer:
Basic written instructions to be given to hunt staff at the beginning of the season to confirm intentions
You will be hunting trails
These will be laid to replicate as far as possible the live quarry
Watch out for recording sound as can give incriminating evidence
In your daily reports it is good to write reasons for stopping hounds . It might be due to shooting but you put down that it is because you think hunting a live quarry”
Another retired police officer, this time an inspector, explains in more detail the problem of saboteurs:
“This is all about trying to avoid getting them on a regular basis. The view is that those Hunts which have not had them but get a visit and appear to be flagrantly breaking the law they see as easy prey and will plague them. The Warwickshire had not had them for 4 years and they turned up one day and then plagued them and it took the Warwickshire 12 months to then sort the problem out.
Phil Davies an ex police inspector of 30 years standing helped resolve this. He was very clear in his advice:
“If you don’t have a plan and they arrive you will get it wrong and they will be back”
This will mean you have to hunt legally within the law hunting trails for the day. This is annoying for the purists but we heard time and again how those hunts which were hunting trails properly had perfected .
In its simplest terms we need to implement trail hunting for the day and do it a way that replicates as far as possible natural hunting whilst convincing the Saboteurs we are complying with the law.”
This seemingly absurd statement, only makes sense when you understand that hunts only behave within the law when they are being watched.
Phil’s advice is quickly followed up by another admission of guilt that this hunt does not usually lay trails:
“I suggest the next stage is once Libby and I have got our Trail Laying and filming operation in place we need to talk with Tom and the hunt staff re implementation.”
And again, how on earth does this hunt not already have a trail laying plan, when hunts have only been trail hunting for 15 years?
“Who and how do we perfect our trail laying plan
Libby and Simon to take responsibility for ?”
So looking back at 1998 when cubs were raised in underground prisons to be tossed to the hunt, has much changed?
We don’t think it has.
You can read the entire document on the Hunting Leaks website, under “Hunting Organisations”