A government counter-terror document lists the Hunt Saboteurs Association as domestic extremists. We have witnessed first hand how this policy has been played out by Leicestershire Police. Around 2013/2014 we became aware that our group was being monitored by Special Branch and this was later confirmed when an officer within Special Branch admitted this was the case and that hunt saboteur groups were high on their agenda.
We strongly suspect that our phones were bugged by Special Branch during this period and the following two examples should highlight why we believe this.
Firstly a saboteur from our group had a phone conversation with a neighboring hunt sab group about both groups attending the Pytchley Hunt that weekend. However our plans changed at the last minute with a second phone conversation between the same people where it was decided to go to a different hunt. The first phone conversation happened on a landline phone whilst the second happened on a mobile. That weekend both groups attended and sabbed the hunt as planned, however we found out later that there had been a large police presence at the Pytchley Hunt as if they had been expecting sabs groups to turn up.
In the second example we have acquired police phone logs that provide us with concrete evidence that our group was being actively monitored by Special Branch and the resources they were willing to use to prevent us from saving foxes from fox hunters. The phone logs also show that Leicestershire Police planned on deliberately misusing legislation designed for football matches to help them achieve this.
On the 04.01.2014 at 07:05:34 an officers briefing for the Quorn Hunt was scheduled for 09:30 hours. The Quorn Hunt weren’t due to meet until 11:15 so Leicestershire Police knew at least four hours in advance that saboteurs would be attending the Quorn Hunt.
By 08:53:29 resources had already been dispatched for this police operation. At 09:30 the officers briefing for the Quorn Hunt was held and by 10:26:44 police had already arrived at the scene.
At 11:00:32 Special Branch officer DS Spencer Jayne reports that West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs mini bus had been picked up by an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and was with two other suspected hunt saboteur mini buses believed to be heading toward Donington Services.
11:13:55 DS Jayne confirms that a number of known saboteurs are at the Services.
At 11:14:34 a Section 60 and Section 60 AA of the Criminal Justice And Public Order Act is authorised because it is believed that saboteurs would attempt to disrupt the activities of the Quorn Hunt who are currently engaged in hunt activities. This legislation allows police to stop and search large groups of people and is intended to be used at football matches where there is a fear of serious violence happening.
Lets stop there and reflect on how crazy this all sounds. First of all let’s remember that hunting a fox with a pack of dogs is actually illegal, that hunt saboteur groups are non-violent and their main concern is preventing cruelty from happening to wildlife. So why were Leicestershire Police using Special Branch to effectively spy of these groups and why were so much effort and resources used to prevent them from stopping a fox hunt from killing foxes? And why did Leicestershire Police choose to turn a blind eye to these “hunt activities”?
The video accompanying this article documents what happened next as we arrived at the Quorn Hunt.
At least two riot vans full of police detained the group of saboteurs as planned under the Section 60 powers. Special Branch officers DS Spencer Jayne and DC Hugh Keen were at the scene in plain clothes and were both instrumental in detaining the saboteurs. DC Keen even went as far as stealing a saboteurs phone to prevent the illegal stop and search from being filmed.
One of our saboteurs refused to be searched on the grounds that it was illegal and that Leicesterhire Police were abusing their powers. She was arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer. She was given bail conditions which banned her from going near any fox hunt in the country and banned her from entering the entire county of Leicestershire.
We obtained emails between the CPS and Leicestershire Police which releveled that CPS Laywer M. Lawrie sent an email to PS 429 Paul Allen saying that the case should be dropped with a proposed notice of discontinuance. Allen replied saying the case shouldn’t be dropped because the saboteur had “a history of protest and defiance of the law” and that the saboteur had recently successfully sued another police force and that discontinuing the prosecution would place Leicestershire police at risk of similar litigation.
Leicestershire Police effectively lent on the CPS to continue with the prosecution to avoid being sued. The case went all the way to court only for the judge to throw it out because there was no case to answer as the stop and search HAD been unlawful. Leicestershire Police were successfully sued as a result.
On top of this Leicestershire Police imposed extremely draconian bail conditions which banned here from attending every fox hunt in the country and banned her from entering the entire county of Leicestershire. These bail conditions were successfully challenged
This case highlights the corruption at the heart of Operation Blackthorn and Leicestershire Police and also the lengths and resources they are willing to use to protect fox hunts.