Anti-hunting activists are facing a high court injunction from one of Britain’s wealthiest people. But they’re fighting back and are asking for help to do so.
David vs Goliath
On 16 October, an injunction submitted by the Fitzwilliam Hunt named three hunt sabotage groups. The 300-page document mentioned North Cambs Hunt Sabs, Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs and Northants Hunt Saboteurs. On a page fundraising money towards legal costs, the groups said the move aimed to:
prevent us from exposing and publicising their systematic law breaking.
In April, a former huntsman for the Fitzwilliam Hunt was found guilty of illegally killing a fox. And in February, North Cambs Hunt Sabs were attacked while attending the hunt. Barry Watson was later convicted of assault and criminal damage for the incident. Both of these cases included evidence submitted by groups named in the injunction.
Philip Naylor-Leyland is joint master of the Fitzwilliam Hunt. He has regularly featured in the Sunday Times Rich List. Naylor-Leyland owns an estimated 50,000 acres of land near Peterborough. Anti-hunt activists claim at least 17,000 acres is used for hunting.
A judge rejected the first 300-page document, the saboteurs’ fundraising page said. But the high court is now considering a “cut-down injunction”. The situation is described as “a real-life David vs Goliath case” by the page because:
twelve ordinary working people are now faced with a court case against a multi millionaire…
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As a result, the three groups have launched a fundraising campaign to help them challenge the order.
Buying a licence to kill
Speaking to The Canary about the importance of challenging the court order, a spokesperson for North Cambs Hunt Sabs said:
This exemplifies the attitude of hunters, that they ‘own’ wildlife. They think that even when they are exposed as the immoral criminals they are, that they can just buy the right to continue killing. This is not about whether 12 people can or cannot stop one hunt from hunting. It’s about whether it’s allowable in our country to simply buy secrecy to continue to hunt with impunity.
Injunctions against anti-hunting activists are rare. North Cambs Hunt Sabs told The Canary that the last one known was a lifetime injunction taken out by the Brocklesby Hunt in 1995. However, Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs claimed to have successfully attended the hunt for the first time in September.
In the past 12 months, courts have granted a number of injunctions against lawful protest. Fracking companies Cuadrilla and Ineos both gained court orders against activists, while campaigns against HS2 and UK Oil and Gas now face similar restrictions.
Activist legal support group, Green and Black Cross, describe injunctions as “a way that companies can buy themselves personalised laws”. This is obvious enough with Cuadrilla and its ilk. But it’s even clearer here. The Fitzwilliam Hunt has a documented history of criminal activity. Now it’s trying to buy its way out of accountability. Just so a handful of people can continue getting their jollies murdering wildlife. We must support the fight against this free pass.
– Donate to the fundraiser that’s helping fight the court order.
– Check out Netpol’s upcoming event about injunctions against protest.
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