Guilty! Four hunt staff admit illegal hunting

Case shows Hunting Act 2004 can, and does, work

Four members of the Middleton Foxhounds, a registered fox hunt based at Malton, in North Yorkshire, today pleaded guilty in respect of the illegal hunting of a fox in December 2012, following footage obtained by the League Against Cruel Sports during a hunt meet at Full Sutton, East Yorkshire. Huntsman Tom Holt, Whipper-in Shaun Marles, Terrierman Lee Martin, and Amateur Terrierman Brian Cuthbertson all pleaded guilty in respect of Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004 – the offence of Hunting a Wild Mammal with a Dog.

The case concerned an incident which was video-recorded by members of the League’s Investigations Team, who saw a fox take refuge from the hunt in a stack of hay bales. The animal was trapped in the bales for over 25 minutes, with hunt staff using terriers, sticks and hounds to force the fox to flee into the open. Eventually it did attempt to escape, and was brought down and torn apart by the waiting pack of hounds. The huntsman could then clearly be seen, and was filmed, using his hunting horn to blow the traditional call for a kill (used when hunting was legal). He then picks up the fox carcass and holds it over the hounds so that they could better attack and ‘rag’ it.

Paul Tillsley, Head of Investigations at the League and one of the team that filmed the incident, stated;

‘Whilst we’re pleased with this result, and the admission of guilt from the hunt staff concerned, we doubt it will change their behaviour going forward, or that the hunt themselves will admit illegal hunting and change their ways. We know that many hunts are regularly out there breaking the law, and that’s precisely why we have a team of professional Investigators in the field – to capture illegal activity and work with the relevant authorities to bring about prosecutions.’

He continued ‘This case is one of several from our work during the last hunting season (2012/13), but a new season is just beginning. We can only hope that successful cases like this will make hunts think twice about continuing to blatantly flout the law, and start adapting their practices to hunt false trails, leaving animals well alone. This was the will of the British public when the Hunting Act 2004 was passed, but sadly it didn’t save this fox. The successful outcome of this case today is a clear example of how the Hunting Act 2004 can, and does, work when enforced.’


Notes to Editors

1. Please contact the League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 (24 hrs) or emailpress with any queries or comment requests.

2. Sentences:

Holt – Fined £200 + £20 surcharge + £85 costs = £305 total

Marles – Fined £100 + £20 surcharge + £85 costs = £205 total

Martin – Fined £100 + £20 surcharge + £85 costs = £205 total

Cuthbertson – Conditional Discharge 12 months, £15 victim surcharge + £85 costs = £100 total.

3. The League Against Cruel Sports is also working jointly with the RSPCA on a further Hunting Act prosecution. Following an operation by the League’s Investigations Team, footage was submitted to the RSPCA prosecutions department, the RSPCA has served a summons on Will Goffe, huntsman for the Ledbury Hunt, for allegedly breaching the Hunting Act 2004.

4. The League Against Cruel Sports has a team of professional Investigators tasked with investigating illegal hunting and other incidents of wildlife crime.

5. About the League Against Cruel Sports – The League Against Cruel Sports is a registered charity that brings together people who care about animals. Like the majority of the public, we believe that cruelty to animals in the name of sport has no place in modern society. Registered charity number 1095234. Find out more about our work at


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