1st August 2019
Charges against a hunt saboteur have been dropped after a confrontation with a councillor was caught on camera.
Dafydd Hughes was walking toward a drag hunt meeting on a lane near Ruthin in December 2018 when he was confronted by Trelawnyd and Gwaenysgor community councillor Ed Lloyd-Ellis.
Footage of the incident shows Cllr Lloyd-Ellis telling Mr Hughes he is not allowed to walk down the road and standing in his way.
A scuffle breaks out where they are seen to be holding each other.
Mr Hughes claimed Cllr Lloyd-Ellis grabbed him first, but this was denied by the councillor who claimed it was the other way around.
The hunt saboteur said he reported the incident to North Wales Police, but Mr Hughes ended up being charged with common assault.
He alleged there was police bias, which was denied by Chief Inspector Jeff Moses, who insisted they investigated incidents around hunt activities “impartially”.
Mr Hughes said: “I was grabbed first and I reported it to the police, but I was the one that got charged, which I don’t understand.
“There is police bias here. I grabbed him around the throat because he had me around the throat.
“I have had six months of hell following this and then got told on Monday that the charges had been dropped.”
Cllr Lloyd Ellis said: “I informed Mr Hughes he could not go down the road under the Countryside Rights of Way Act and Common Law because they were going to intimidate, disrupt or prevent a lawful activity.
“He grabbed me around the throat first and one of his colleagues tried to remove his arm. I was very disappointed the charge was dropped.”
Cllr Lloyd-Ellis insisted they only engaged in drag hunts and did not break the law.
He also said he had been attacked previously due to his connection with the hunt community, but did not have a problem with peaceful protests.
Chief Inspector Moses said: “North Wales Police has a well-established operation in place to police the issues surrounding hunt activities and to investigate any offences which are evident or reported.
“This operation has a command structure and detailed plans which make it clear that we police any incidents with impartiality and that we will facilitate peaceful protest.
“I can tell you that both ‘sides’ accuse the police of bias and it is a challenge to show that we are impartial. We actively investigate alleged offences committed, regardless of who is reporting them.
“Another aspect of the operation is that the hunt and protestor sides each have a team of dedicated police liaison officers who communicate regularly.
“The issue of illegal fox hunting is a complex and emotive one. Since the banning of fox hunting, the legislation has been difficult to enforce and it is a real challenge to secure evidence for prosecutions.
“We are however supported by specialist wildlife crime liaison officers in the Crown Prosecution Service and by our own Rural Crime Team. No-one is above the law in this matter and although it is difficult to convince some people, there really is no bias in our approach.”
A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: “The case against the defendant was charged by the police and passed to CPS.
“The case was reviewed in accordance with the test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and our duty to keep cases under continuous review.
“The crown prosecutor undertaking the review concluded that the evidential stage of the Code test was not met as there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
“The proceedings against the defendant were discontinued.”
It is not the first time North Wales Live has reported on altercations between hunt saboteurs and Cllr Lloyd-Ellis, with the two sides coming together previously.
Last week, Paul Allman and Charlotte Mueller were cleared of assaulting Cllr Lloyd-Ellis after an incident at a Flint and Denbigh Hunt meeting.