Forestry England (FE) has cancelled all further meets by the Kimblewick Hunt on its land. It comes after a judge handed two men employed by the hunt suspended custodial sentences for animal cruelty. And it marks another major blow to a hunt with high-level connections.
FE, a government body responsible for public woodland in England, has withdrawn the four remaining licences from the Kimblewick Hunt. This means FE will not permit the hunt to use its land for the rest of the 2019/20 season.
A court convicted Ian Parkinson and Mark Vincent of animal cruelty on 30 October. The pair, employed as terriermen by the Kimblewick Hunt, threw a live fox into the path of hounds on New Year’s Day 2019. The conviction led FE to cancel the hunt’s following meet on 9 November.
On 26 November, the judge sentenced Parkinson and Vincent to 12-week custodial sentences suspended for a year. Campaign group Stop Hunting on the Nation’s Land said that FE subsequently withdrew all remaining Kimblewick Hunt licences on 9 December. This means FE has excluded the hunt from its land at least until the end of the current season.
The Kimblewick Hunt has close ties to the pro-hunting lobby group the Countryside Alliance. Guy Portwin, an appointed member and director of the Countryside Alliance, is a former director and joint-master of the Kimblewick Hunt. Guy’s wife, Polly Portwin, is also the lobby group’s head of hunting.
But the hunt’s close ties aren’t only to the upper echelons of hunting. Tory peer and under secretary for rural affairs and biosecurity Lord Gardiner is an honorary member and former director of the hunt. In fact, this connection was raised as a possible reason for the Kimblewick Hunt’s attempt to cover up an outbreak of bovine TB in its hounds in 2016. Lord Gardiner is also former deputy chief executive of the Countryside Alliance.
Despite these close connections to the top flight of hunting and rural governance, the wider public is actively shunning the Kimblewick Hunt.
Get these hunts off public land
Although the Kimblewick Hunt has been ejected from public land, FE will still host nearly 30 other hunts on its land this season. Some of these, such as the Surrey Union Hunt and Portman Hunt, have been accused of killing foxes. It’s time FE, which looks after land for all of us, stops harbouring something the majority of the public despises.
Featured image via YouTube – Lydia Knight
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