North Wales Police latest attempt to stitch up sabs has once again failed after the CPS discontinued the case the afternoon before it was due to go to court. North Wales Police had wrongfully prosecuted sabs for an alleged breach of covid regulations whilst watching the Flint and Denbigh hunt openly break the guidelines week in week out.
At the start the rules seemed pretty simple to understand. Outdoor gatherings should not exceed 30 people…. So when we turned up to a hunt and counted 42 we alerted the police. The police turned up but weren’t so keen to act on this obvious breach of covid regulations. The police said “we counted 25 just over there”. We pointed out there were more riders just over the hill and then terrier men and then numerous hunt supporters?? The police said they couldn’t go over the fields and count as they weren’t wearing the correct footwear. Typical response from North Wales Police so we contacted the office of the First Minister Mark Drakeford, and we recieved a reply confirming the rules for outdoor gatherings were not to exceed 30 and that North Wales Police should be enforcing this. Unfortunately though the police ignored the hunts breaches and came up with excuse after excuse…. Surely even the dullest of Denbigh officers can count to 30?
The hunt continues to break covid regulations and NWP continued to not only ignore it but come up with excuse. On another day 2 officers stood at the farm gates of the meet, but riders had gathered at 2 different locations not coming together into one big group until they were in the fields, it was clear there were over 30 at the event, you could even tell this by counting the vehicles. On another occasion Nigel Cox the former huntsman had travelled to North Wales from Derbyshire during lockdown. On one occasion the police had the drone out with them, surely now they will be able to count to 30? Nope, they decided to change the rules. They told us they’d counted 42 riders (that’s not including other hunt supporters) but there had been a change in the rules that morning. We checked the Welsh Government website and there had not been any changes to the regulations. We went back to the police and told them this but now they said there had been a change to how we interpret the rule of 30, now the 30 does not include under 12s or any hunt staff. What the hunt had now done was make a false list of people naming them as hunt masters. The police even interpreted the hunts terrier men travelling into Wales from Cheshire as being there to work.
When lockdown regulations changed and we went into a local lockdown North Wales Police informed us (whilst we were at the police station given a statement of illegal hunting) that sabs living in Flintshire would not be able to attend hunts in the next county of Denbighshire. Now this didn’t sound right to us as it was something we’d already looked into, we immediately informed the police that this was not correct under the European Convention of Human Rights Act articles 10 and 11. We then contacted the police and asked them for this in writing. But the email we received back from the police went further than banning the crossing from one county to the next, it read as a complete blanked ban on protests, absolutely no mention of crossing county lines. Our legal advisers had a look at this and seeked advice from top human rights solicitors, they too confirmed the police could not do this. They also said if the police are to allow a hunt to go ahead then they must also accept protesters will show up. We informed the police of what we’d been advised and we were very confident we were in our rights.
Then the following Saturday 11/10/20 two of our sabs went in search of the Flint and Denbigh hunt. We were down to two sabs due to lockdown restrictions and covid, both sabs live in Flintshire only a couple of miles from the Denbighshire border. The sabs started the morning by checking out the possible meeting points in Flintshire, but no sign of the hunt, so it was clear they’d have to cross into Denbighshire to find the hunt. As sabs approached Cefn Meiriadog a fox ran across the road in front of the sabs vehicle, sabs stopped the vehicle and could hear the hunts hounds to their right a couple of fields over, one sab got out and headed in that direction where he then founds the hunt in a maize field. The other sab drove up the road to where the hunt vehicles were park, a hunt support had mistaken the sab for being a member of the hunt and informed the sabs “the police are here because the antis are out”. There was a police vehicle parked at the meet who soon came over to the sab in the vehicle asking who she was and what she was doing etc…. The sab informed them she was there taking part in a protest and we’d informed the police we would be doing so on the guidance of our legal advisers and the police then drove off.
A little later whilst both sabs were stood on the side of the road monitoring the hunt, the police returned and this time they’d brought Sgt Nathan Jones for back up. The police walked straight passed the first sabs and went towards the sab they had already spoken with. This time they were telling the sab she has to leave the area, note that the second sab had not been questioned asked his name and where he’s from. We were also not asked if we had a covid risk assessment, which we had. It was pointed out to the police that members of the hunt were also not from Denbighshire, and they couldn’t claim Richard Davies-cooke from Mold was there working, he was only there to support and watch his family ride with the hunt. As the police were insisting on the sabs leaving the hounds picked up on the scent of a fox as they started to ‘speak’, This was pointed out to the police but was again ignored. One sab left the scene to try catch up with the hunt whilst the police still spoke with the other. When the 2nd sab returned to the vehicle a few minutes later the police had already left. Whilst we’d say there has been a notable improvement in the police of the hunts in the last 12months, in the background you still have lurking the old guard, the likes of Sgt Nathan Jones who is very anti saboteurs. This was again made clear when a member of the police went to St.Asaph police station to make a complaint against the hunt breaching covid regulations week in week out, only to be met by Sgt Nathan Jones who said well sabs have broken the regulations and been summoned, even naming the sabs which is a serious breach of data protection.
The sabs were summoned to court, the first trial on 21/6/21 was adjourned as it wasn’t made clear in the court papers that it was not a pre-trial and it was not clear who was prosecuting the sabs, was it the police or CPS?. We found the police statements to be the stuff of fiction, PC Gareth Jones’s statement wasn’t a accurate picture of events, and Sgt Nathan Jones’s was laughable, he stated we could have protested the hunt in Flintshire! Just how loud does he think our gizmos are? The trial was moved to the 30/7/21 but at 4pm the day before we recieved a call from our solicitor informing us the CPS had just informed them they had discontinued the case. Talk about leaving it until the last minute after 9months of stress caused, we believe that to be deliberate tactic used my North Wales Police just like the last case which dragged on for 6months only for the CPS to drop it a couple of days before trial. And the week before that 2 sabs walked free after being found not guilty of false allegations of assault. There’s a clear pattern of harassment here with the police deliberately causing as much stress and worry to us as they can.