BY NIGEL BEAN & PAUL READ
The bullying and harassment of the National Trust by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) under the veil of a right to protest is an utter disgrace. The League hope to ban hunting on National Trust property by slowly bleeding them out with hundreds of fake news stories referencing “illegal” hunting.
Soon you won’t be able to search for the National Trust online without getting the impression through the LACS search engine optimisation campaign that they happily facilitate bTB ravaged hounds killing foxes for sport illegally while a pack of toffs look on laughing.
Central to the animal rights extremists’ tactics is pressure through newspaper and magazine articles, a strategy first documented 67 years ago during the first ever fox hunting government inquiry:
“There are, on the other hand, some organisations which have been formed solely for the purpose of securing the prohibition of a particular sport or all field sports. In the main such organisations seek to convert public opinion to their point of view by pamphlet, advertisements and press propaganda, and by Parliamentary action instigated by pressure on Members of Parliament which is both direct and indirect, through letters which constituents are invited to send to their representatives. Such organisations do not as a rule themselves investigate the facts of the practices to which they object, and the evidence they placed before us was for the most part based on reports appearing in the Press or other publications.”
Now social media is the main target of LACS and its supporters who crawl social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to troll and land threats.
There are many examples of LACS’ latest media blitz which show how these extremists go about preventing the National Trust from carrying out one of its core conservation principles. The League’s Chris Luffingham wrote to estates owned by the Trust just as they were about to hand out licences for access to their land by the hunts. He also wrote to the (traditionally anti hunt) Trinity Mirror newspaper group for national coverage. Trinity Mirror is always happy to oblige LACS – hunt stories are good clickbait. Here are a selection of these articles here:
The unflattering headlines about the National Trust are ubiquitous. Take this example:
“National Trust slammed by animal welfare charity over new hunting licence for Mottistone Estate”
Of course, next year Luffingham will write a similar letter and so the tsunami of fake news from LACS’s supporters will rebuild. Their content is nothing short of propaganda which breaks Charity Commission (and ASA) rules on facts being used to support claims and advertising. Take the following examples:
“Allowing a hunt to trample across the land, taking part in an activity which many people believe involves the killing of animals, completely goes against that philosophy.”
“Many people believe involves the killing of animals”
Just who are ‘many’ people? How about many people know for a fact, as laid down by the Commission’s rules? (In fact LACS don’t know because not one hunt has ever been prosecuted on National Trust land).
A clear break in Commission rules has been undertaken by LACS nationwide. Again, look at the Commission guidelines:
“The benefit aspect from the Charity Commission – Any detriment or harm that results from the purpose (to people, property or the environment) must not outweigh the benefit – this is also based on evidence and not on personal views”
How have the National Trust behaved? Admirably so far.
Perhaps the National Trust have not bled out enough. They have yet to become so worn down from the constant harassment and abuse meted out by the League and other groups – they have thus far stood firm and issued the necessary licenses. All bar one – the Ashridge estate in Hertfordshire. They were about to issue trail hunting licences to the Trinity foot and South Herts Beagles when the letter arrived from League. This put National Trust Ashridge in a very awkward position because they were also in the middle of a large conservation exercise culling deer and issuing the licenses worried the National Trust they might attract the sort of LACS criminals shown below in fig 1.
Fig 1. Just as a pack of Foxhounds are flushing out a fox in Scotland to waiting guns in a perfectly legal fox management/control exercise three monitors in camouflage appear in front of the guns position putting themselves in immediate and grave danger.
LACS-linked extremists, just a week previously, had put themselves at risk by preventing another perfectly legitimate and legal conservation exercise in culling foxes on land shared with the RSPB:
*Note the RSPB are only misguided because the Sheffield Hunt Sabs have taken in Dr Harris’ 180 degree spin of foxes controlling their own number, a good example of the damage Dr Stephen Harris’ spin can do.
The Trinity Foot and South Herts Beagles have had use of the National Trust land for well over 40 years and once had their hounds kennelled down the road in Ivinghoe Aston. They have never been prosecuted for illegal hunting and yet the National Trust were forced to take the decision to suspend the license as a direct result of extremist action and in so doing broke one of their own Conservation principles:
“Principle 4: Access and engagement – we will conserve natural and cultural heritage to enable sustainable access and engagement for the benefit of society, gaining the support of the widest range of people by promoting understanding, enjoyment and participation in our work”
Just why is the Charity Commission allowing one charity to bully and harass another forcing them to forgo their own principles?
The police are now involved.