VIDEO: Animal rights campaigner clashes with hunt followers in Dorset
The head of a worldwide animal rights campaign group claimed that a Dorset hunt he was attempting to monitor blocked and abused him.
He also claimed that one of his employees was hit on the head with a whip.
But hunt campaigners have described a video diary from Robbie Marsland, the UK director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, as “spurious” and “desperate”.
The row centres on a film posted on YouTube by Mr Marsland, a leading figure who helped secure the 2005 ban on hunting.
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It shows him travelling by train from his office in London to Dorset, where he joined IFAW’s regular hunt monitors, who were watching the activities of an un-named hunt in the county. The video shows Mr Marsland’s vehicle regularly blocked in on country lanes by either riders on horseback or by hunt followers’ 4x4s, and also shows hunt supporters filming the monitors filming them.
Only occasionally did the IFAW team see or hear hounds, but he claimed their activities looked like they were hunting foxes rather than following a trail legally. An exasperated Mr Marsland said the behaviour of the hunt and its supporters showed they “had something to hide”. At one point he films the aftermath of an alleged attack, saying one of the monitors was struck on the head by a huntsman with a riding crop.
He has now written to the new police commissioner for Dorset, demanding the force investigates hunts.
“From what I saw while monitoring, I have grave concerns about the safety of IFAW’s Wildlife Crime investigators, who are being subjected to intimidating tactics by individuals who seem to be hunt supporters,” he said.
“I am also concerned that some hunts which claim to be trail hunting are running amok across the countryside and may be breaking the law by chasing and killing foxes. I strongly urge forces in Dorset, where I saw this worrying behaviour, to take action,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance said the video contained no evidence of any illegal hunting and merely showed that IFAW were “desperate” to “prop up” the Hunting Act.
“This is a spurious and innuendo-laden film with evidence of nothing more than people gathering to ride out together in the countryside,” said Jill Grieve. “Mr Marsland uses the word ‘suspicious’ and proclaims that ‘something very, very bad’ is going on, but he only has evidence of people out in the countryside together, some on horseback, some in cars. Neither is illegal.”
Take a look at the video below.