Message from Wildlife Witness
20th May 2020
In late November our monitors attended a meet of the Portman Hunt at Woolland in Dorset. At around 2.30 the Portman’s huntsman, Tom Lyle and whipper-in Josh Clark were drawing hounds through an area of hedgerow.
Our senior monitor was filming from a short distance away and captured the following piece of film.
It shows the moments after a fox is flushed from the hedgerow, directly in front of Lyle, and is pursued by the hounds whilst Lyle and Clark make no effort to call them off. The fox is then chased by the pack in to a hedge and subsequently runs for its life with the full pack of hounds just yards behind.
The incident was reported to Dorset Police on that day and a witness statement was subsequently provided but it wasn’t until February that Lyle and Clark were formally interviewed by Dorset Police in connection with a breach of Section 1 of The Hunting Act 2004. This three month period enabled them both to carry on virtually a whole season of hunting including numerous days when they were filmed hunting foxes and one confirmed kill in December.
On 22 April, we were informed that the police would NOT be proceeding to court with the case on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) due to a lack of evidence.
However, on 7 May, we received an email from the CPS disputing this and confirming that it was actually Dorset Police who decided to drop the charges against Lyle and Clark.
The investigating officer provided some observations regarding the evidence and the prospect of a successful prosecution that included the suggestion that had the case gone to court then the Portman could “call the hunt Chairman, Senior Master or similar person associated with the hunt who is of high local standing and good character to state in court that the last thing they would do is hunt illegally. This is generally accepted by District Judges.“
Statement from Wildlife Witness
Fox hunting was banned in 2004 and yet it is clear from this video that it carries on regardless. Anyone looking at these images would find it difficult to believe that any police force would drop charges against the individuals who carried out this act and it is even more unbelievable that in the year 2020, the police still believe that someone’s social standing, is more important in influencing judges in a court of law, than physical evidence.
The public have a right to know why this is still being allowed to happen and why those who carry it out are not facing justice in the courts and we have started an online petition to force Dorset Police to act now to stop illegal fox hunting.
We will continue to monitor the activities of hunts and bring in to the public domain the reality of what is happening in our countryside. If the hunting fraternity think that they can carry on doing this, without the public finding out about it, then they had better think again.
More info published in the Mirror Online – https://www.mirror.co.uk/…/fox-shown-being-chased-pack-2204…