Last August and early into the new fox hunting season, a sab was ridden down and seriously injured by Mark Doggrell of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt in Dorset. The attack happened during an evening cubbing and pony club meet, where children aged from 7 to 14 were present. The woman spent two weeks in hospital for injuries including seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung and trauma to her shoulder.
Doggrell was arrested and investigated for causing grevious bodily harm but last week the CPS decided not to bring any charges, citing insufficient evidence. Whilst on bail for this attack he was also charged with assault for breaking a fellow hunter’s nose at their hunt ball.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt saboteurs Association, stated: “We are disappointed, but not surprised, that no charges have been brought against Mark Doggrell. Historically the police and criminal justice system have allowed acts of violence on hunt saboteurs to go unpunished whilst the saboteurs themselves are prosecuted seemingly at the whim of the hunts.
The announcement coincided with the anniversary of the death of Mike Hill. He was killed whilst sabbing the Cheshire beagles on 9 February 1991, aged just 18, crushed between a truck and trailer driven by Alan Summersgill. Afterwards an angry group attacked Summersgill’s house and some people were gaoled but he was never charged with any offence, even driving without due care or attention.
Two years later another young man named Tom Worby died on his first sab, crushed under the wheels of a van belonging to the Cambridgeshire Fox Hunt. The driver was huntsman Alan Ball but he too faced no charges. Since then many sabs have been seriously injured, including one named Steve Christmas who nearly died in 2000.
These attacks receive scant coverage, unlike that afforded to the rare instances of saboteurs fighting back. Two weeks ago the joint master of the Tedworth Hunt in Wiltshire was beaten to the ground and required hospital treatment. His injuries weren’t serious – a few broken teeth – but according to the Daily Mail police said they were treating it as a serious incident of ABH and potential public disorder and described it as “a totally unacceptable assault involving a group of men and wwearing balaclavas.”
Some of you reading this might find it hard to believe that saboteurs are still being attacked and hunters getting away with it when hunting with dogs is supposed to have been banned since 2005. In fact it’s the 10th anniversary of the Hunting Act on 18 February. Shouldn’t it be hunt scum themselves who are facing the full force of the law?!
Yesterday the BBC website published an article called Did hunting disappear? in which the Hunt Saboteurs Association is quoted as saying: “Most hunts are carrying on as they did before. The police have never known much about hunting other than how to try to protect it, so we never had much faith in them changing sides”
The problem is the police don’t want to enforce the law and neither do the CPS. It’s left to hunt monitors to follow hunts and try to record their wrongdoing but they too can get attacked. Due to judicial inaction, the RSPCA have spent millions prosecuting hunts themselves. But even on the rare occasions when they are successful, those guilty are let off with a slap to the wrist. In 2013 Nicholas Bycroft of the Crawley & Horsham Hunt admitted illegally hunting a fox and received a 12 month conditional discharge, £150 costs and £15 victim surcharge.
There’s never been a better example of how class loyalty trumps the so-called rule of law than the Hunting Act. The hunts, the police, the judges and the politicians really are all in it together. While the public remain opposed to hunting with hounds, few realise how toothless the law has become. Labour Party supporters the League Against Cruel Sports continue to peddle the myth that it’s a “very successful and popular piece of legislation” despite having to admit “there are plenty of ways in which the pro-hunt groups… (are) contradicting the spirit and intent of the law.”
As usual it will be left to hunt sabs to go out into the field to confront the vicious and violent hunting fraternity. Just days afterÂ Doggrell was let off, his hunt was at it again, using quad bikes to block in a sab landrover before smashing the windows, throttling the driver and damaging equipment in the vehicle. They even placed a home made ‘stinger’ type device under the vehicles tyres in order to puncture them.
Some of you may recall that back in the eighties Class War used to publish a photo of an “Hospitalised copper of the month” in the pages of its newspaper, much to the annoyance of those who accused it of pandering to hooliganism. The group pointed out this was a response to the left’s usual portrayal of itself as a victim of oppression and injustice.
Perhaps its time we saw a similar mentality amongst the anti-bloodsports movement but that is highly unlikely. People who go out to stop animals being torn to pieces are compassionate and caring individuals who usually baulk at the prospect of violence. Unlike those they are up against.