No conflict of interest?
A while ago we revealed links between Leicestershire Police Wildlife Officer PC Rob Cross and local fox hunts. Official complaints were made to Leicestershire Police regarding the conduct of PC Cross. Leicestershire Police refused to even investigate the majority of what was contained in the complaint stating that the length of time was outside of 12 months. This included an allegation that PC Cross had divulged unauthorised information to a supporter of the Atherstone Hunt and an allegation that PC Cross had not investigated an incident of illegal hunting properly.
Regarding his links to fox hunting Leicestershire Police found that there was no conflict of interest. We are not satisfied with this outcome based on the fact that PC Cross is not only a wildlife officer but also part of Leicestershire Police’s Operation Blackthorn (the East Midlands policing operation for hunting). Given his links to that community should he have any involvement in hunting related issues at all?
Regarding PC Cross retweeting an article in support of repealing the Hunting Act Leicestershire Police merely comment that “A “retweet” doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in support of an issue, but would lend weight to the thought process that they may be” and that the retweet took place long before PC Cross became a wildlife officer. We think it irrelevant when or how long ago the tweet was sent the fact that he has given an opinion on hunting in the public domain means he should never have been part of Leicestershire Police’s hunting operation or become a wildlife officer.
In regards to PC Cross’s links to people involved in local hunts he claims “that he knows all of the individuals but he is not friends with any of the rest of the named persons”. This is despite admitting to going to a wedding which some members of the Atherstone Hunt also attended. The exception to this are two people PC Cross claims to be close friends with and who he helps out with on their farm. He claims they don’t ride with any hunt or are a member of any hunt “but that they have allowed the Fernie Hunt to occasionally pass through their farm grounds”. What he means by “occasionally” we can’t be sure but this would be true of most farmers who let hunts on their land. Fox hunts don’t go over the same land week in week out, instead access is normally spread out across the course of a hunting season. For example a farmer who lets a hunt on their land once for cub hunting, once before Christmas and once after Christmas could easily claim to “occasionally” let the hunt on their land. Certainly they wouldn’t do so if they didn’t support the hunt. Leicestershire Police do not see this as a conflict of interest. However what if an incident involving the hunt took place on that land? This reinforces our point that he should never have had any part in Leicestershire Police’s fox hunting operation.
The other notable link between PC Cross and a local hunt is the member of the Atherstone Hunt (filmed assaulting a sab and who Leicestershire Police claimed they couldn’t locate) who was an equestrian groom for a period of time at a horse yard run by PC Cross’s mother-in-law. PC Cross states that they are not friends but that his mother-in-law and his wife are. Leicestershire Police are happy that there is no conflict of interest…
We maintain the opinion that PC Cross should never of had any involvement in the policing of hunting. Fox hunting is a very emotive subject and involves two groups with opposing views. So it is inevitable that when a member of the police dealing with hunting is seen to have personal links to hunting the fairness and integrity of that policing operation will be brought into question. Leicestershire Police are happy that there is no conflict of interest, so how can anyone wishing to report a hunting incident have any trust in Leicestershire Police that it will be dealt with appropriately? Especially if it is related to either the Atherstone Hunt or the Fernie Hunt? We will be taking this matter up with the IOPC.
Police refuse to gather evidence of illegal fox hunting
When we witnessed illegal hunting in Battram Woods by the Atherstone Hunt (a place the Atherstone Hunt are not allowed to stray off the bridleways). We asked officers from Leicestershire Police if they were going to leave their cars and gather evidence for themselves of illegal fox hunting. They refused. First they claimed they couldn’t because it was private property so we had to point out to them that there are numerous footpaths leading to the woods and the woods themselves are completely open to the public. They still refused making various excuses and told us they believed the Atherstone Hunt were trail hunting. They said they would investigate if we provided them with evidence, they didn’t seem to understand that it’s actually their job not ours to collect evidence of illegal activities.
If there was any doubt left as to Leicestershire Police’s attitude towards hunting this incident should erase that doubt. They are not interested in investigating fox hunting. It seems over the past few years more effort and enthusiasm has been put into trying to secure convictions on saboteurs.
Leicestershire Police do nothing as hounds run all over road
Two Sergent’s from Leicestershire Police sat in their car and just watched as the Atherstone Hunt and their hounds took over a road whilst they hunted along it making motorists wait. At the front of the traffic jam was a bus which was also forced to stop and wait for the hunt. As the police sat by and did nothing it was left to saboteurs to make sure traffic slowed down. Leicestershire Police then hunt/sab liaison officer PS Woodrow was one of the Sergent’s present in the police car.
Leicestershire Police wildlife officer retweets in support of repealing the Hunting Act
Leicestershire Police wildlife officer PC 207 Rob Cross retweeted an article about repealing the Hunting Act. The original tweet was sent in 2012 by a friend of PC Cross who rides with the Fernie Hunt and also the Quorn Hunt. It was then retweeted by PC Cross on 23rd August 2012.
This is not the first time that a wildlife officer at Leicestershire Police has been outed as supporting fox hunting. In 2016 wildlife officer PC Sharon Roscoe was outed as riding with her local fox hunt the Belvoir Hunt. She stepped down from the position of wildlife officer amid growing public pressure over the conflict of interest. PC Roscoe was replaced as wildlife officer by PC Cross
Other tweets by PC Cross include retweets of the 2012 Game Fair which was due to be held at Belvoir Castle that year which is home to the Belvoir Hunt.
We have previously revealed that PC Cross was friends on social media with a farmer with close connections to the Atherstone Hunt. PC Cross was involved in at least one investigation into this farmer. No further action was taken against him. https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/posts/1462615663883503
We also revealed that PC Cross’s wife Louise Cross was close friends with a regular Atherstone Hunt rider who was also investigated by Leicestershire Police for assault. This investigation was also dropped suddenly with no explanation. https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/photos/a.292446557567092/1467317533413316/?type=3&theater
At least three of PC Crosses friends ride with the Fernie Hunt.
Last year we published an audio recording taken at an Atherstone Hunt pre-season meeting in which PC Cross was present and can be heard advising hunt supporters which laws can and can not be used against hunt saboteurs. https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/videos/1206387039506368/
A spokesperson for West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs said “It’s astonishing that Leicestershire Police have now appointed not one but two wildlife officers who both support fox hunting. When most people think of a wildlife officer they will assume that the officer cares about wildlife. They certainly don’t expect the officer to support the chasing and killing of wildlife by a pack of hounds. In PC Cross’s case it seems he also supports the shooting of wildlife. The Game Fair is a fair celebrating the shooting industry. Game birds are reared on an industrial scale in horrendous conditions only to be shot out of the sky once they are fully grown whilst native wildlife is trapped and shot by gamekeepers. There seems to be a massive conflict of interest here. What’s alarming is that PC Cross has been actively involved in several investigations into the Atherstone Hunt both illegal hunting and assault allegations.
He has not declared any of his links to fox hunting. Has his connections to fox hunting affected the outcome of any of the cases he has been involved with? Certainly PC Cross’s conduct has breached the Police Code of Ethics http://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Ethics/Documents/Code_of_Ethics.pdf
“associations with groups or individuals, must
not create an actual or apparent conflict of
interest with police work and responsibilities”
We will be lodging a formal complaint about PC Cross’s conduct to Leicestershire Police’s professional standards as we view this as a possible misconduct issue.
We also think that any previous and ongoing hunting related cases PC Cross has been involved in should be re-looked at to see what impact he may of had on them
Police refuse to investigate members of the Atherstone Hunt who made false statements
This is the video footage that completely undermined three members of the Atherstone Hunt who had claimed a member of West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs had caused them harassment, alarm or distress. The three members of the hunt included Huntsman and joint-master Mike Lane, joint-mast Mark Halford and kennelman Oliver Hope. Their case fell apart when the footage was played in court undermining their allegations. They had claimed that Cathy Scott had shouted, sworn and threatened them. The footage shows the complete opposite a quiet demonstration outside the hunts kennels, no shouting, no swearing and no threatening behavior.
After the trial we contacted Leicestershire Police and asked them to investigate the three hunt members for perverting the course of justice as they had clearly made false statements to the police and had also lied in court. Leicestershire Police refused to even consider investigating them. In fact we reported the three hunt members on THREE separate occasions to Leicestershire Police who refused to investigate. The first officer we spoke to was also rude, aggressive and defensive on the phone. We can only conclude that Leicestershire Police’s refusal to investigate this particular crime is because it would implicate some of their own officers. After all it was Leicestershire Police who allowed this case to continue despite the fact that the hunt had provided them with NO actual evidence to collaborate their claims. It was Leicestershire Police who allowed the members of the hunt to make wild accusations in their statements which had no relevance to the incident and again had no actual evidence to back them up. The officers involved in this case (PS Matt Trott and PC Alison Barnes) have a history of targeting hunt saboteurs with false allegations from the hunt that have no evidence to back them up. These same officers also have a history of taking no further action against members of the Atherstone Hunt despite actual video evidence being handed over to them.
Before the trial the CPS refused to release details of meetings between the Atherstone Hunt and officers from Leicestershire Police. This is all in stark contrast to how Leicestershire Police treat hunt saboteurs. We are not allowed to make allegations we can not back up with actual evidence.
Hunt Saboteur found not guilty of public order offences
One of England’s most notorious fox hunts has suffered a humiliating defeat in court – The Canary
– Three senior members of the Atherstone Hunt reported for perverting the course of justice
No Further Action
Leicestershire Police took no further action against Ashley Davies, the son in law of the Atherstone Hunt chairman and friend of Leicestershire Police wildlife officer PC Rob Cross. Davies was filmed violently attacking and assaulting saboteurs who were filming the Atherstone Hunt. His attack concluded with him driving his quad bike into one of the saboteurs who ended up in a ditch as a result. The outcome could have been far more serious if the quad bike had landed on top of him. Leicestershire Police are claiming they didn’t have enough evidence, this is not true, the victim made a victim statement and handed footage in. In most circumstances this would have been more than enough. To add insult to injury Leicestershire Police are now victim blaming, saying it was the victim’s fault it got dropped as not enough statements were made.
This case highlights perfectly the vast gulf of difference in the way Leicestershire Police treat anti-hunt and pro-hunt cases. Anti-hunt cases are set impossibly high standards of evidence where it is never quite good enough whilst pro-hunt cases have absolutely no evidence threshold at all. Members of the Atherstone Hunt for example are allowed to make false allegations against saboteurs, provide NO evidence whatsoever and yet Leicestershire Police are fine with this (and continue to be) and even hand out harassment notices to saboteurs based on this none evidence. (All harassment notices have been successfully challenged and overturned)
We hold Leicestershire Police partly responsible for this incident as they took no further action against Davies for a previous incident where Davies ran at saboteurs with a metal bar.
These are not isolated cases, a few years ago members of the Atherstone Hunt attacked and stole cameras from saboteurs, the case was dropped however Leicestershire Police actually wanted to arrest the victims!
Leicestershire Police can’t even claim these decisions are being made by different people in different departments, some of these decisions (with the vast difference in required evidence) have been made by the same officer. DS Matt Trott took the decision to take no further action in the first Davies case and was the Senior Investigating Officer in the second case. In both of these cases he claims the evidence was not good enough yet Trott was also responsible for issuing the harassment notices to saboteurs based on no physical evidence from the Atherstone Hunt. In total three harassment notices (or Police Information Notices) have been issued to sabs and then later overturned.
A complaint was previously made about Trott and upheld after a phone conversation with a sab where he said “Your hunt saboteurs that’s what you do, you trespass on other peoples property and harass people”. It’s not hard to guess what Trotts opinions are about hunt saboteurs yet despite the complaint being upheld he remains part of Leicestershire Police’s hunting unit (Operation Blackthorn) making decisions about hunting issues.
Wildlife officer recorded advising Atherstone Hunt on which laws can be used on saboteurs
October 2017 – Wildlife officer recorded advising Atherstone Hunt on which laws can be used on saboteurs
Leicestershire Police wildlife officer PC Rob Cross was recorded attending a meeting with the Atherstone Hunt where he advised them on which laws can and cannot be used on hunt saboteurs. In the same audio recording senior members of the hunt reveal they have had several meeting with Leicestershire Police over the summer. It should come as no surprise that after this meeting Leicestershire Police charged a member of West Midlands Hunt Saboterus with Section 4a and 5 of the Public Order Act after senior members of the Atherstone Hunt lied about her swearing and shouting at them. Leicestershire Police pushed this all the way to court where the hunt sab was found not guilty after video footage proved the Atherstone Hunt had been lying. If she had been found guilty the Atherstone Hunt could have applied for a restraining order against her.
Leicestershire Police invite Countryside Alliance’s Phillip Davies to police training day
August 2017 – Leicestershire Police invite Countryside Alliance’s Phillip Davies to police training day.
A member of the Countryside Alliance an organisation who have previously stated they would break the law regarding hunting and who are actively involved in trying to repeal the law on hunting are invited to a training day on how to enforce that very law.
Phillip Davies is the Countryside Alliance’s Police Liaison Officer. Formerly a Chief Inspector in 2001 at Dyffed Powys. His job involves trying to undermine the Hunting Act and frustrate the work of the Hunt Saboteurs. Davies tries to influence policing policy in relation to hunting by attending events such as the National Police Chief Council’s conference in Derby on 16th March 2016.
For a much more detailed article on Phillip Davies please click here https://morethanjustbadgers.net/blog/unmaksed-phillip-davies-of-the-countryside-alliance/
It seems shocking that Leicestershire Police would invite someone to their training day on hunting who is part of an organization that is so hostile to the legislation on hunting. It should come as no surprise that after this meeting Leicestershire Police stepped up their campaign of harassment against West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs. Resulting in one sab being charged with Section 4a and 5 of the Public Order Act after senior members of the Atherstone Hunt lied about her swearing and shouting at them. Leicestershire Police pushed this all the way to court where the hunt sab was found not guilty after video footage proved the Atherstone Hunt had been lying. If she had been found guilty the Atherstone Hunt could have applied for a restraining order against her.
Leicestershire Police refuse to hand over apology letter to victim
February 2017 Police refuse to hand over apology letter
After filming and reporting an Atherstone Hunt supporter ramming his car into the saboteurs vehicle and then threatening and shouting a torrent of sexist abuse – a clear Section 4 / 5 Public Order offence Leicestershire Police decided to given him a lenient sentence – a conditional caution with the condition being that he writes a letter of apology to the victim. Leicestershire Police then refused to even hand over the letter to the victim saying she could view it at arm’s length but could not keep it because they didn’t want it to be put on social media. Leicestershire Police effectively protected the perpetrator at the expense of the victim.
An official complaint was made and the letter was eventually sent to the victim. The letter was put on social media and then picked up by the national media
After this event where the hunt supporter was clearly filmed swearing Leicestershire Police then took a saboteur all the way to court after senior members of the Atherstone Hunt claimed she had sworn at them. She was charged with a Section 4A and 5 of the Public Order Act. The hunt provided NO evidence to Leicestershire Police to back up their claims. Yet this hunt supporter was told to write a letter of apology that the police then refused to hand over. The saboteur was found not guilty after the senior members of the Athersrtone Hunt’s lies were exposed in court.
This is perhaps one of the clearest examples of how Leicestershire Police treat saboteurs differently to members of the Atherstone Hunt.