*** Sab forced into vehicle by Heythrop Hunt staff ***
Astonishing footage. Well done Zac, an independent sab who works alongside us; story shared with his permission.
Obviously the Heythrop should really have learned from the 2012 conviction but they are still illegally hunting, still blocking badger setts and now forcing local people into hunt vehicles! It’s kidnap and should have been taken seriously…
So I was kidnapped.
Some of you will know this story already, however, I had not publicised it yet because it was an open police investigation and I was advised not to. The investigation has now been closed due to “insufficient evidence” and so I have decided to finally share what happened.
As some will know, in the UK it is traditional for fox hunt groups to go out on Boxing Day. Since fox hunting is illegal, they claim to be following a pre-laid trail and not chasing actual foxes, but multiple times this has been proven to be a lie. I am openly anti-fox-hunting, as I believe it to be barbaric and cruel. I also have many friends who are hunt saboteurs, they are lovely people who just want to protect innocent wildlife.
In my parent’s hometown, there is a rather large hunt, and a large amount of the local community (larger than in most communities) support the hunt. The hunt meets in the town centre, they all get drunk, and then ride out to terrorise the local wildlife. This is no secret. In fact, if you google Charles Frampton (leader of the Heythrop Hunt) half the images that come up are him drinking on his horse at hunt meets.
I went up to the town centre to protest the hunt meet with a few activist friends in the morning. There were four or five of us in total (including me and my sister), and what looked to close to a hundred riders and double that in support. We spoke to some journalists, took some pictures, and watched Frampton and the other riders drinking worrying amounts of alcohol (considering that being drunk and in charge of a horse is illegal in the UK). The alcohol was provided for free by the local pub “The Fox”.
After the hunt rode out from the town centre, my activist friends and I decided to head home. Many activists choose to follow hunts to gather evidence of illegal hunting and try and protect wildlife but we agreed that this would be dangerous considering how outnumbered we were. We noticed, however, as we exited the town centre, that we were being followed by a large man on a radio literally repeating our movements. Two of our group were new to anti-hunt protests and had heard how aggressive hunters and their support can get, so were nervous, so I told them to break away, run and we’d regroup. Then me and my sister started running. The man followed us down the road, and I got my camera out and filmed over my shoulder. As soon as he saw the camera he slowed down and we were able to get away.
Once I had made sure all the other activists had gotten home safe, I decided to go out for a bike ride, get some exercise, and if I did happen to see any signs of illegal hunting then I could report that to the police. Just outside of Chipping Norton, I heard the hounds go into cry (this means they have picked up a scent and are giving chase). I hopped off my bike, locked it to a fence and peered into the woods.
Within minutes I saw the pack of hounds going after a fox. I started filming and chased after them, trying and failing to call the pack of hounds off. I followed into the woods, but could not move as quickly as the hounds and lost sight of them. As I followed in the direction the hounds had gone, I saw two riders coming towards me on what looked like a public bridleway. The closer of the two riders was the master of the hunt, Charles Frampton.
“What are you doing?” Frampton asked.
In the moment, I saw no reason to lie. I now wish I had.
“I am filming your hounds going after foxes as evidence for the police.”
Frampton’s attitude immediately changed and became hostile. He rode as close to me as he could without physically touching me.
“Excuse me!” he said. “You are on private land. You’re trespassing, we’re calling the police.”
“Yes.” I replied. “I am trespassing because you are illegally hunting. I am trying to prevent a crime.”
As a paralegal, I was aware that trespass is a civil offence, not a criminal one, whereas fox hunting is a criminal offence. Committing a civil offence such as a trespass can be justified if it is done to prevent a criminal offence.
Frampton didn’t seem to like this answer. At this point, he rode his horse directly into me, bashing my shoulder.
“What gives you the right!” he yelled repetitively as he bumped his horse into me. He also began to swear.
At this point I realised I was in danger. I looked about and saw several hunt support approaching from the left and right, some in balaclavas. Frampton and I exchanged some heated words, and he told me to get back to the footpath, swearing and riding into me more. I backed away, but the hunt support were directly behind me now, so I had nowhere to go.
“Get your fucking arse out of here now!” Frampton yelled at me, riding into me more forcefully this time
“Okay.” I said, giving in and trying to get by. “I’m going back to the footpath.”
Now bear in mind they were telling me to leave, but blocking my way. At this point a land rover pulled up and more hunt support got out.
“Better yet,” Frampton said, his tone still aggressive, steering his horse to block my way to the footpath I had come from through the woods. “We’ll give you a lift.”
It’s worth noting the public footpath (labelled as such) was barely 100 feet away. Walking would have been just as quick as getting in a car and driving.
“No, I would rather walk.” I replied, trying to get around the horse. The hunt support blocked my path and Frampton veered his horse into my way, bumping into me again.
“NO, YOU FUCKING GET IN THERE NOW!” he yelled at me.
Behind me, a large man in a balaclava (one of the support) shoved me hard towards the land rover. Someone got out of the passenger side door and I was pushed again so that I was backed against the passenger side of the car. The driver (a woman) was yelling something at me but I couldn’t make out what as I was focused on Frampton and the thugs around me. I was pushed into the passenger side seat of the land rover and the door was slammed shut behind me. The back of the land rover was occupied by barking dogs, and it was just me and the driver inside. Once inside the car I realised the driver was accusing me of lying and saying there were no foxes and that I was making it all up. Outside, there were multiple hunt supporters and terriermen and riders, and many of the support and terriermen were covering their faces. No one seemed to object to what was happening. Since Frampton was out there and at this point I was afraid of what he might do, getting out of the land rover seemed riskier than staying in it. The woman driving seemed like far less of a threat, so I let her start the engine. She drove a hundred feet around the corner, yelling at me the whole time about how they were going to call the police and have me charged with trespassing, then she started accusing me of being intimidating to her.
“We’re on public land now, you have to let me go.” I point out.
“No we aren’t!” she says, and continues driving.
“Yes, we are!” I say firmly, pointing at the footpath and the signs indicating that it is public. The car is forced to come to a stop at a junction just beyond the footpath, and a family out for a boxing day walk in the woods is staring at us as we argue and I try and open the door (which is locked, obviously). The driver gets ready to pull away, but I get the lock up and open the door and just throw myself out as she yells “GET OUT MY CAR, I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!” (which was bizarre, to say the least. I never wanted to be in there in the first place, lady).
The family rushed over to me and asked if I was okay, to which I reply “no.” and stand for a moment as I attempt to calm myself down.
“Do you need us to call anyone?” the mother asks. I shook my head. I’m not ashamed to say I was fighting back tears at this point and talking was difficult. I have anxiety, and to be honest I’d challenge anyone even if they didn’t have anxiety to remain unshaken by such a situation.
I doubled back to where I had locked up my bike and cycled home. On the walk to collect my bike I realised that my camera, which was attached to the strap around my neck, had been filming. The camera has a touch screen and all the buttons on the back, so each time I moved and it bumped into me, the buttons had been pressed, including the record button. It had also pressed various other settings buttons, changing contrast, brightness, etc. but the most important point was that I had evidence. I had been outnumbered and alone so reporting would have been pointless, but with video evidence I had proof of what had happened.
I decided I wanted to just move past it, but when I told my friends and family what happened, they said “it sounds like you were kidnapped.” I said I didn’t want to use that word as it sounded overly dramatic, but multiple people pointed out that it fitted the definition of a kidnapping and convinced me to inform the police.
I contacted the police, still hesitant to use the word kidnapping, but the call operator says from what she can hear, it sounds like kidnapping is the appropriate word. An officer came to meet me, and I provided my statement and the videos, as well as the number plate of the car I was forced into. the driver of the car was identified and asked to come into the station for an interview. From what I was told, it seems she told the police that she had just been told to escort someone off private land and had done so, and had no idea I was being forced against my will. Frampton was not made to come into the station or give a statement. The hunt were contacted for a statement and said they “could not recall” who had been present. The driver also said she “could not recall” which members of support had been there. I was told the matter was being closed due to insufficient evidence. I asked why Frampton had not been made to give a statement, but the officer refused to answer any more questions and said he considered the matter closed.
Since the investigation is now officially closed, and I only held off on sharing my story because I was advised not to talk publicly about an open investigation, I see no issue with showing the video and letting everyone know what happened. Feel free to share my story. This is not an isolated incident. Although kidnapping is a new one for the hunt, hunt groups frequently assault and harass people, smash up car windows, slash tyres, burn and break property, recklessly ride and hunt while drunk, and illegally hunt wildlife. The police frequently fail to prosecute, and the only way to stop them from getting away with this is to support local Hunt Saboteur and Hunt Monitor groups and call for a stricter ban on fox hunting, tightening up the rules to leave no loop-holes, and ban trail hunting.