Well, I say my investigation but as you’ve seen, most of the work had already been done by the Hunt Investigation Team. (HIT)
For me, it was a job to know where to start. I had some video footage, two suspects who had both made no comment interviews and the bodies of two of the fox cubs.
I found out who the Chairman of the South Hereford Hunt was and paid him a visit. I also found out that there were 4 other ‘Masters’ and again spoke to them. To say that they were all deeply worried would be an understatement. They knew that secret filming had taken place at the kennels. They also knew about the tracker on Parry’s vehicle. What they didn’t know, was how long that filming had been going on and the extent of the investigation and filming.
Had their vehicles been fitted with trackers? What other video footage had been captured? What else would be uncovered? I am sure that all of these and more questions were running through their minds, especially if they knew they had something to hide! In any event, to my surprise the other Masters did want to cooperate with the investigation, if for no other reason than to completely distance themselves from the crimes. They were all too aware of the gravity of the situation and the huge ramifications it would bring. They were all upstanding members of the community and had their personal reputations to protect.
In normal circumstances I’m sure they would have stood shoulder to shoulder to protect the reputation of the hunt, but they knew this was beyond the pale. Whatever their reasoning, their evidence would turn out to be fairly crucial.
What the other Masters said….
They said that Paul Oliver was the Master Huntsman, a hunt employee who was responsible for the hounds and the kennels. His partner Hannah Rose was also employed by the hunt as a kennel Maid/ Groom. They both started working for the hunt at the beginning of May, 2015. They lived in a house on the site of the kennels. They were the only paid employees of the hunt. Everyone else volunteered. Although Oliver had specific responsibility for the hounds and kennels, all of the Masters had joint responsibility for the running of the hunt. Oliver’s role would include looking after and training the hounds, picking up fallen livestock from farms in the surrounding area, then skinning and processing these. Some of this meat would then be used to feed the hounds. Oliver would then be responsible for the disposal of the remainder of the fallen livestock via a collection company. He would exercise and train the hounds and during the hunting season would hunt with the hounds twice a week. Hannah Rose was employed to assist with the hounds and to look after the hunt horses. On the evening of Saturday 28th May 2016 the Masters were made aware that Oliver and Rose had been arrested by police in respect of fox cubs being found at the kennels. They said they knew nothing more than this at the time. They said that on the following morning a meeting was held with the Chair, three of the four remaining Masters, (one was away), the Hunt Secretary and the Hunt Treasurer. Oliver and Rose were asked to attend and explain what had happened and the reason for them being arrested.
They said that Oliver claimed he had brought two fox cubs to the kennels for relocation. He said that he had not had time to relocate them and that they were having a DEFRA inspection on the 27th May. He said that he made the decision to dispatch the fox cubs. He was asked how he did this. He said that he hit them on the head with an axe. He also said that no hound DNA would be found on the fox cubs if they were tested. He was asked specifically and he said that he had not put the fox cubs in with the hounds. At one point Oliver said that if the hunt did not support him then he would seek legal advice!
He was asked if any other fox cubs had been brought to the kennels and he said that they had not. Oliver said that the quality of the video was not good and that you couldn’t even make out that it was him! He played down the incident. Rose supported Oliver in what he was saying although she seemed a lot more uncomfortable about it. The meeting then ended.
The hunt suspended Oliver and Rose during the following week. In their statement the other Masters said, ‘The evidence which has been filmed, suggests that Paul Oliver kept live fox cubs at the kennels and then put them, still alive, in with the hounds at the kennels. This is not a practice that is acceptable to The South Hereford Hunt’. All of the remaining Masters gave assurances that they were not aware that any fox cubs had been taken to the kennels. They said that they would never have allowed this had they known what was happening. They said they had not been aware that any fox cubs had been killed by the hounds at the kennels saying they would never have allowed this to happen.
Crucially, the other Masters wrote that they had been made aware that covert cameras were placed in the grounds of the kennels to secretly film what was happening. They wrote that, although no-one had permission to trespass on their land and place the covert cameras, it was only because this happened that this evidence had come to light. The South Hereford Hunt were therefore not seeking to question this trespass or the placing of covert cameras at the kennels without permission on this occasion. They said that The South Hereford Hunt did not condone what happened at the kennels in any way whatsoever and that they would be putting in place measures to make sure this could never happen again.
There was no evidence that the other Masters of The South Hereford Hunt were directly involved in these criminal offences. But, while I have no sympathy for Oliver or Rose, I can’t help but think that they were the scapegoats. There’s no doubt that there must be great pressure on ‘Huntsman’ across the country to ‘perform’. As the only paid people within the Hunt, they risk losing their jobs if they don’t. The other Masters and senior members of the Hunt wouldn’t necessarily care HOW the hounds perform……as long as they do.
With my limited knowledge and, I hope I’m not being completely naive about this, I also believe that it’s possible that the majority of the people hunting are unaware of the lengths gone to to make sure foxes appear on the day. Having observed the hunting within my area it appeared that the Majority of the Hunt are deliberately held back a long way behind the hounds, Huntsman and Whips. It is only when the hounds give chase to a fox that the rest of the Hunt get to catch up. They wouldn’t be able to see if the fox had been released from a man made earth, a bag or the box on the Terrierman’s quad bike!! Is it possible that many people within the hunts believe that they are trail hunting and when foxes ‘break cover’, this is a complete accident? Certainly, with the amount of foxes killed during ‘legal’ hunting, most people must think the countryside is awash with them!! ………….or AM I just being completely naive?
15 thoughts on “(6) My Investigation (Part 1)”
I think the British public are now aware of the scale of corruption in our police force now. It’s terrifying that you can no longer trust or rely on the people we , as tax payers are paying. May I add there are some really nice police men and women. But it seems the ones that turn up at hunts are a certain type. Mostly JOBSWORTH.
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This story needs to be out there. We look forward to more! All we need to do is raise public awareness about what the hunting community are up. The rest will do itself.
If you want more evidence of illegal hunting, you only have to follow the sab Facebook pages. Day in day out, illegal hunting and killing of foxes. What do we have to do to get the law enforced?
I don’t know you sir, but I’m so proud of you. Someone in such a precarious position that is prepared to go out on a limb and expose the hunting fraternity for what they are, murderers. Thank you. Keep writing. Although it’s sad, its also very interesting, informative and eye-opening. How can we get this out to the wider public?
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Many thanks for your support. I hope that as the blog progresses, more people will see how institutional corruption tried to collapse the investigation and hopefully it may get some air time in the press.
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One of the bigger problems we face is that many people assume it has stopped, and that these are freak occurances. Well done for showing how deep rooted and systemic this wildlife abuse is.
All police officers who have hunts in their area know that illegal hunting continues. Most are afraid to go anywhere near them because of a lack of knowledge and they are certainly given no encouragement by senior officers. People should be asking their local police forces what their policies are on dealing with hunts and what training is given to their officers.
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there is a secret war going on and no one wants to bring it to a head, there was a story only last week of a hunt tearing through a village and children being lifted out of the way of hounds, gates being closed etc yet the story only made a small 3″ x 2″ column in the sun, we need the press to maybe do a feature on this to try and stamp it out once and for all.a police officer actually told me he had a good relationship with the hunt, that can be taken one of two ways, i will let you decide which way you think it is but i know which way i do as not even a courteous call back about an incident.i look forward to reading more details about your own experience, thankyou for having the courage to share it
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I’m another retired cop, frequently dismayed and disillusioned with the police service I was once proud to serve. Since retirement I have worked in the animal welfare charity sector and, to be fair, I have met many committed, hardworking police wildlife crime officers who are constantly battling to get justice, despite the corrupt influence of hunts and certain countryside associations over senior officers and prosecutors. Some officers barely conceal their disdain for members of the public who are opposed to hunting and make it all too obvious that they are hunt supporters.
In one force area where illegal hunting occurs frequently, nobody has ever been prosecuted under the Hunting Act. Why is that? Some police forces perform rather better overall but investigating officers are still frustrated by decision-makers and prosecutors who either don’t understand the evidence they are looking at (and won’t listen to advice) or are manifestly pro-hunt and stop prosecutions by saying (without further explanation) that there is “insufficient evidence”. In Scotland, there has only ever been one successful prosecution for traditional fox hunting in the 18 years since it was made illegal and the hunts continue to do as they please two or three times a week in the season.
On the ground, hunts are employing ‘stewards’ or ‘security’ men who use blatant, violent methods to prevent hunt monitors and hunt saboteurs from filming illegal hunting. Time after time we see footage on social media showing these thugs obstructing the road, committing criminal damage to vehicles and assaulting people, yet the focus of police special branch and public order intelligence units always seems to be on the activities of the ‘antis’; there may be no officers available to investigate allegations of illegal hunting but there is never a shortage of officers to respond to phone calls from the hunts to disrupt and detain hunt protesters.
If a case does go to trial, the prosecution service in England and Wales often field a novice barrister or a non-specialist solicitor who has no experience or understanding of hunting cases, in the certain knowledge that defendants are represented by specialist lawyers led by talented, expensive Queens Counsel who will, almost inevitably, win their case in our archaic adversarial justice system.
I was present at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court for several of the pre-trial and trial court hearings in the South Herefordshire case and heard first-hand how this investigation unfolded. I was impressed only by the District Judge who, despite the bullying manner of the defence barrister (frequently threatening to have the judge’s decisions judicially reviewed in the High Court) and the woeful delays that had occurred in the prosecution case (caused by the police), maintained a firm hand and delivered true verdicts according to the evidence. Sentencing, however, seemed unduly lenient; perhaps this was to avoid an appeal. I was left with the impression that the case would never have been brought had it not been for the media pressure.
I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that the only way we are ever going to stop the cruel, barbaric practice of hunting with dogs and the corruption that surrounds it, is to expose those who continue to defy the will of Parliament for their own ends, and I commend you for doing so in this blog. I feel enormous sympathy for you and your family, after all that you, and they, have had to endure since this case started. Sadly, it is all too obvious that we cannot rely on the police and the state prosecution services to enforce the legislation fairly. Let’s always remember, though, that there are many honest, decent individuals in both services who may be labouring under the same oppressive influences that blighted your career.
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Really interesting. Thankyou for sharing this. I hope more police officers who know the system is wrong will speak out.
This corruption must be stamped out.
I’m a retired Senior Crown Prosecutor. I worked for 18 years in rural courts. I never saw or heard of even one file relating to hunting (either charged or for for advice)
I was involved in the peprisecutiin of a gamekeeper. He had beaten an alleged poacher (who was drunk, walking down the street – minding his own business. But was known to be a poacher
When I say ‘beat’ -they treated it initially as a murder scene as the guy was unconscious and bleeding from the ears.
He even tried to set his dog on the man when he was helpless on the floor
The police arrested …..th semi conscious man. Told the gamekeeper they may have to speak to him later
Never took his guns
I had him charged – it went to crown court. It took months longer than it should – I have no idea why
I was constantly being pressured to drop it because he was a good guy and the victim was not (apparantly)
I was astounded that it wasn’t dropped on the day of trial( must have got a barrister with balls for once)
The gamekeeper got community service ( should have been prison)
Wait for it
The start of the sentence was deferred so as not to interfere with his greaves shooting season. Wtf!
Sorry. Rant over!
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Wow. Thank you so much for this. I really hope we can help to change things for the future. It is accounts such as this that the public need to hear to show the past and present bias in our institutions. Please continue to read to see just how dark this story gets and how corruption at the top of our institutions is very much still in place.
Julie, I would be interested in your view of Mr DAVIES’S report in chapter 18? Many thanks. Richard
Your blog is very interesting. I am also a retired police officer. I am aware of incidents in my previous police force area of reports of certain hunts “bringing foxes with them to chase”. There was intelligence of one hunt having dug a fox from a den which was being kept to release before the hounds.
On another occasion there was a report of men in a pickup “seen chasing a fox” just before the arrival of the hunt. I now believe that what the witness had actually seen was a fox being released in front of the hunt. On this occasion the hunt was confronted by police officers, who claimed that they were only drag hunting! However, one officer who stayed in the area to monitor the hunt, said he observed the hunt raking up and down the hedges, clearly to try and flush a fox. On making some further enquiries, a local gamekeeper gave an account which seemed to confirm this suspicion, and he advised that occasionally after the hunt had been in the area, he found foxes which were clearly not local, and by their behaviour were unfamiliar with the area, and didn’t have a den. He suspected they were being brought to the area of the hunt and released. He stated he humanely killed the foxes by shooting. On this occasion there was insufficient evidence to pursue the incident further.
Other rural residents would sometimes admit that they were aware that the local hunt was chasing foxes, but that as people within the hunt were in effect “their neighbours” they were reluctant to report what they witnessed to the police.
The presence of “terrier men” at a hunt suggests to me that a hunt isn’t perhaps simply trail hunting? The fact these terrier men are present is perhaps a good indication that there is every expectation a fox will be flushed or be forced from its den?
Fortunately the force I worked in had specialist police wildlife officers, who were dedicated in exposing wildlife crime. Their biggest obstacle was the “wall of rural silence” which made gathering evidence so difficult at times.
I am aware that the League Against Cruel Sports have recently been lobbying MPs to to expose weaknesses in the Hunting Act, which are allowing some hunts to get away will illegal hunting.
It would be good if ever reader of this blog, wrote to their MP, expressing outrage at what is actually taking place within our countryside, and demand that the necessary amendments are made to the Hunting Act; so that legal loop holes, which can be exploited by those hunts who continue to behave in such a wicked and barbaric manner, are forever closed; and our wildlife afforded the protection that the majority of the public actually want, and which the Hunting Act was supposed to provide.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Hopefully it will get attention it deserves, and give greater public awareness to this issue.