8th January 2021
Footage has emerged of a huntsman telling protestors to ‘get back’ because ‘he has Covid’ and they ‘wouldn’t want to get too close.’
The maskless man, dressed in full hunting gear, was taking part in a hunt in Tiverton in Devon – one of the few Christmas meets permitted to take place this year.
In a separate incident at another hunt in Warwickshire, saboteurs filmed another man telling them he didn’t ‘give a f**k’ about spreading the virus.
Hunts faced criticism for going ahead during the pandemic but organisers said they had taken all necessary precautions. The footage shows crowds of people gathering together in large groups with little sign of social distancing.
In Devon – which was in tier two at the time – a man is seen gesticulating with his whip as he walks towards protestors alongside a pack of dogs and another man.
The pair at first appear cheerful and wish the activists a merry Christmas. However, as they walk closer, one of the pair tells them to step back because ‘he has Covid’ and ‘they wouldn’t want to come too close to him.’
After activists comment he shouldn’t be at the meet if he’d contracted the virus, the other man shot back, saying, ‘nor should you.’
A spokesman for the Devon County Hunt Saboteurs said: ‘The Tiverton huntsman’s claim that he has Covid demonstrates a total lack of consideration for the community, whether it was meant in earnest or intended as a sick joke.’
Elsewhere, at the Warwickshire Hunt, activists from the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs filmed participants gathering in large groups.
The film then shows an angry confrontation between the saboteurs and a man who is trying to get them to leave the land and rejoin a footpath.
He tells them he doesn’t ‘give a f**k’ about the virus, ordering them to the path where he says they will be ‘hunky-dory.’
A spokesperson for the WMHS said: ‘It doesn’t come as any surprise that they just carry on living in this bubble, where nothing affects them and that they are immune from any rules we have to follow.
‘Most people across the country have made difficult sacrifices, they’ve potentially lost their jobs or family members. It’s taking the mick that they’re going out in such large numbers and disregarding the hard work of the NHS.’
The organisers of the Tiverton hunt have hit back at accusations they didn’t take the risk of spreading the virus seriously.
They said the Covid comment was an ‘off-the-cuff’ remark made by a man who did not actually have the virus but had become frustrated after being ‘harassed throughout the day.’
A spokesperson for the Tiverton Foxhound said: ‘The hunt and its supporters are aware of the devastating effect that this pandemic has had worldwide and has been adhering to strict Covid protocols throughout this season to ensure the safety of its staff, supporters and the wider community.
‘We can confirm that the individual did not have Covid and that this unwise and off-the-cuff remark was said in frustration after the hunt representative had been harassed throughout the day by anti-hunting activists while going about a lawful activity.’
Outdoor sporting activities were allowed to go ahead in areas in tiers two and three over Christmas but were cancelled in tier four.
The Warwickshire Hunt claimed they followed all necessary protocol during the trail hunting season.
A spokesperson said: ‘The Warwickshire Hunt has been very concerned about Covid and the resulting potential risks so we have therefore been operating proper Covid protocols during the trail hunting season. This includes a strict Track and Trace system for all members and followers of the hunt.
‘However, we were not able, despite repeated requests, to get the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs to sign up to this Track and Trace which they should do as followers of an organised sporting activity. It has been a great concern to us that the saboteurs think they are above this important safety check.’