Fox hunt followed by David Cameron BANNED from National Trust lands after “repeated breach of the law” – SWNS


A posh hunt followed by David Cameron has been banned from operating on National Trust lands – after admitting “repeated and gratuitous” violations of the law.

The Heythrop Hunt – which the Prime Minister has previously ridden with – has admitted four charges of intentionally hunting a fox with dogs on land in the Cotswolds.

Former hunter Julian Barnsfield, 49, and retired hunter master Richard Sumner, 68, also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Julian Barnfield, right, of Heythrop Hunt, who has been banned from operating on National Trust land - after admitting "repeated and free" violations of the law
Julian Barnfield, right, of Heythrop Hunt, who has been banned from operating on National Trust land – after admitting “repeated and gratuitous” violations of the law

The RSPCA’s lawsuit, in Oxford Magistrates’ Court in December, was the first time a hunt has faced corporate charges.

Members of the Hunt, founded in 1835, had been licensed to hunt on National Trust lands in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

But the organization said the license would not be renewed on March 31, which expires this year, due to violations of the law.

A spokesperson for the National Trust said: “We are very aware of the importance of country traditions and we allow field sports to take place on our property where they are traditionally played as long as they are compliant. to the law and compatible with the objectives of the Trust. .

“These include public access and the protection of rare animals and birds and fragile habitats.

“Although the illegal activity in this case did not take place on land we own, we consider this to be a serious breach of trust.

“The conviction has given us great cause for concern about the way the hunt is conducted, which is why we will not be renewing the hunting license at the end of March.”

Oxford Magistrates’ Court heard how the hunt had been filmed on several occasions in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

The images were taken by members of the Protect Our Wild Animals group in November 2011, February and March 2012 and forwarded to the RSPCA, who decided to continue.

Legislation that came into effect in 2005 abolished hound fox hunting in almost all circumstances and traditional fox hunting in particular.

The films showed the Heythrop “deliberately hunting in an illegal manner” four times.

Continuing, Jeremy Carter-Manning QC, told the court how the defendants “searched and then hunted down live foxes”, deliberately chasing the animals.

Mr Cameron, MP for Witney, Oxon., Participated in the Heythrop hunt six times before the 2005 law change.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA added: “We have spoken to the hunt and also followed up in writing to make it clear that they will need to work closely with our local teams to rebuild our confidence in the way they lead. their activities before we can consider a renewal application for their trail hunting license.

“The Trust is a charitable organization and does not take a political position for or against field sports.”

The RSPCA spent £ 326,000 in legal fees to privately sue Heythrop Hunt last year.

An all-party group of MPs and peers – including former Cabinet Minister Lord Heseltine – reported the “staggering” amount to the Charity Commission.

They claimed that the RSPCA had violated a “duty of care” that governs its actions.

The organization had asked District Judge Tim Pattinson that the defendants pay their legal costs, but instead ordered a contribution of $ 15,000 from the hunt.

Yesterday, the RSPCA said it had launched a “fight fund” to set aside money for lawsuits ahead of Heythrop’s prosecution, raising 160,000 160,000 in just eight weeks.

Managing Director Gavin Grant said supporters support the RSPCA’s policy of continuing the hunts with their money.

He said: “This is for people who want to underwrite the company’s work in major lawsuits that are likely to be costly, like with the Heythrop Hunt, which are complicated and substantial.”

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