HSA news release 14th February 2004
St Valentine’s Day Massacre for foxes
Master of Foxhounds Association rules broken by terriermen - 7 Hunt Saboteurs arrested - Surrey police act as private security for hunt
Surrey Police were accused of acting as a private security force for a hunt as they arrested 7 hunt saboteurs at the Surrey Union Hunt today. Up to 30 police formed a protective ring around terriermen digging out terrified foxes that had taken refuge in an earth. The incident took place after the hunt had finished on the Hampton Estate near Farnham in Surrey.
Saboteurs at the scene reported the police arresting "anyone they could grab" for alleged Aggravated Trespass. One protestor videoing the arrests had his video tape seized. Saboteurs believe a pregnant vixen and a dog fox were dug out and shot. Several of the arrested saboteurs were forced to kneel handcuffed in front of the police vehicles and watch the jubilant terriermen as they took 3 shots to kill the terrified animals. Contrary to Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) rules, which state "the terrierman will be accompanied by only one assistant" there were at least 7 males in the terrier gang, including a child and a master of the hunt, Mark Sprake. A letter of complaint is being sent to the MFHA (for the little effect that will have).
Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) spokesperson, Nathan Brown, said " We hold every policeman present responsible for the torture and death of these wild animals at the hands of the hunt. They could not have helped more - short of digging the foxes out themselves. The police today made a clear decision whose side they were on and dropped any pretence of unbiased policing. The fact that it happened when the hunt were on the land of a former High Sheriff stinks of corruption. In the past, the police would have instructed both parties to leave to avoid a breach of the peace. The terriermen were outnumbered 4 to 1 by the saboteurs, and the only threat of violence came from Sprake waving a pick-axe handle around until he realised the police were rapidly approaching".
This will put an end to Surrey Police’s cost-saving liaison efforts with hunt saboteurs. The HSA spokesperson added: "This means the end of any co-operation with Surrey Police, and as a result they should expect their policing costs to rocket. Up until now, local saboteurs have tried to remain on reasonable terms with the police, and the police have been able to make savings as a result. Now they have decided to act on behalf of the hunt and take orders from their master Sprake, it gives a new meaning to their role as the 'police service'.
In the last 2 seasons, Surrey Police have failed to uphold a conviction against any of the many hunt saboteurs they arrested. This is an abuse of power and position to prevent us saving animals' lives."
A number of civil cases against Surrey Police are already beginning their journey to court.
Notes to Editors:-
The arrested protestors were taken to Guildford police station, currently at the centre of allegations of officers committing rape.
The owner of the Hampton estate, Bill Biddell, was High Sheriff of Surrey from 2001 to 2002, when he handed over to Penelope Keith. The Hampton estate is due to hold an open day for the Countryside Foundation for Education (CFE) in April. The CFE is an 'educational charity' whose trustees include the Chairman of the MFHA, Lord Daresbury, and the Master & huntsman of the North Penine Foxhounds, Michael Tones.
Most foxes to be found underground at this time of year are pregnant vixens about to give birth.
Master of Foxhounds Association rules state that "Normally the terrierman will be accompanied by only one assistant. Due to the possible use of a humane killer (licensed firearm) and to avoid unnecessary noise and disturbance, participation is limited to the terrierman and his assistant with sometimes the presence of the relevant farmer or gamekeeper"