Hunt saboteurs will host a protest against the East Essex Hunt on 2 May 2022. The event comes after a terrierman for the hunt was covertly filmed “torturing” a fox in December 2021.

PROTESTING THE HUNT

North London Hunt Saboteurs is hosting a protest against an event that the sab group says will “recruit new members and fund illegal hunting”. The protest takes place on the morning of 2 May near Braintree, Essex, outside of a ‘fun ride’. The protest event page says it will be “loud and peaceful”. This event follows on from a previous protest, held on 3 April, when North London Hunt Saboteurs again disrupted an East Essex Hunt fundraiser.

Promotion for both protests highlight the actions of Paul O’Shea, a terrierman for the East Essex Hunt. Covert cameras placed by North London Hunt Saboteurs captured O’Shea “attacking” a fox with a gardening fork. The terrierman pulls the fox by its tail from an artificial earth before sticking the creature with the fork. Video of the incident says it took place on 4 December 2021 in Monks Wood, near Coggeshall. The footage first went public on 23 December.

Image: North London Hunt Saboteurs

“WORD PLAY”

A spokesperson for East Essex Hunt previously denied connection to the filmed incident. It previously told ITV News that North London Hunt Saboteurs’s footage “does not involve any of the hunt’s employees and is unrelated to any activities of the hunt who were not out hunting on that day”.

However, North London Hunt Saboteurs told Keep The Ban that the artificial earth “is only 2 miles from the East Essex [Hunt] kennels at Earles Colne”. And that the wood is an area “they hunt in regularly”. In fact, the sab group says, the hunt’s distancing is “word play” by claiming O’Shea is not an ‘employee’:

“Unfortunately for [huntsman Gary] Thorpe, and conveniently for us, [hunting magazine] Horse & Hound produced an article on the East Essex at the same time as we went public, in which they confirmed that Paul O’Shea is very much a member of the hunt. As is his wife, Wendy, who is a master [of the East Essex Hunt], and their two teenage children”

Reflecting on the footage, the sab group said it can at least use the “ordeal” the fox went through to “lobby the authorities and the public” against hunting. “This evidence is so strong, it can even stymie the most ardent liar for the ‘trail hunting’ argument.”


INVESTIGATION ONGOING

A spokesperson for Essex Police confirmed to Keep The Ban that the case is still under investigation:

“We are continuing to investigate an allegation of animal cruelty in relation to an incident that is believed to have taken place in Coggeshall on December 4, 2021.

It was reported to us on Sunday 19 December and officers from our Rural Engagement Team launched an investigation. On Thursday 23 December we arrested a 48-year-old man from the Bures area on suspicion of offences under the Hunting Act 2004, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Wild Mammal Protection Act 1996. He has since been released under investigation.

Our enquiries are ongoing and anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to call 101, citing reference 42/296167.”


DOWNFALL OF THE HUNT

Protests against ‘fun rides’ and other non-hunting events hosted by hunts are important tools for sabs. North London Hunt Saboteurs told Keep The Ban that money raised at such events helps “workshy” hunt staff retain an income until the following hunting season begins. The group also said many of the riders in attendance may also be unaware of how such events line the pockets of hunts. 

“We are stepping up our efforts against the East Essex Hunt,” North London Hunt Saboteurs said. And it's determined to make the suffering and untimely death of the fox “a seminal moment in the downfall of this hunt”. Supporting and attending the protest on 2 May is a no-brainer. 

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