National Trust Jump the Gun?


The National Trust say they have now banned trail hunting on their land due to potential reputational risk associated with this activity after the conviction of Mark Hankinson over the notorious ‘smokescreen’ webinars. Drag hunting will be allowed to continue on their land.

What is the difference between Trail and Drag hunting?

Trail hunting is an activity that traditional fox hunts have been carrying out since fox hunting was made illegal in 2004. Instead of chasing and killing a live mammal, trail hunting is where hunts follow a pre-laid artificial scent.

Drag hunting is somewhat different. Whereas trail hunts follow a trail as opposed to live mammals, drag hunts follow a pre-laid artificial scent around a designated course. A person drags a material soaked in aniseed or another powerful substance which the dogs then follow.

As per usual in these cases, townies need educating….

Born Free’s Dominic Dyer – the ‘armchair amateur’ as he was described of late by the Minister of Defence, Ben Wallace – needs to get up from his armchair more:

Hounds are used in drag hunting, Dominic.

Perhaps it would have been wiser if the National Trust had waited for the appeal of Hankinson – the huntsman at the centre of the controversy. For he could yet have his conviction overturned.

You’re certainly on shaky ground if you are worried about ‘reputational risk’ when ultimately you’ve made a decision based on evidential material collected via illegal means, in this case computer hacking.

The MO of this computer hack typifies documented animal rights groups hacks – low tech and using passwords from other data hacks to try to access email accounts.

No surprise to see Stop the Cull being one of the first groups to publish the webinars, then offer them to the Hunt Saboteurs Association. Multiple arms’ distance were of course required before Rupert Evelyn – the biased anti-hunt ITV News reporter – played a key role in the webinars’ mainstream dissemination.

Stop the Cull’s Jay Tiernan (Gamal Eboe) and Rupert have, err, met before.

Stop the Cull have spent the past year trying to destroy local businesses, including a children’s nursery. Jay Tiernan even threatened our Editor with a defamation case over the summer but soon backed down when the Editor doubled down on his descriptions of the convicted fraudster. Stop the Cull make good folks’ lives an utter misery through social media abuse and harassment that has led to several police complaints.

Of course, Rupert Evelyn couldn’t be seen to be liaising directly with Stop the Cull so instead he worked with The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) to progress the complaint with Devon & Cornwall Police. LACS in turn fired up their troll army to lodge multiple complaints with the police. The police then claimed the illegally-obtained webinars were ‘of public concern’ and chose to investigate.

Evelyn should be questioned as part of the appeal. What role did the ITV journalist play in the dissemination of this stolen material?

LACS – joyous at the outcome of the trial and at the apparent smokescreen surrounding trail hunting – failed many times over the decades to obtain credible fox hunting convictions themselves. They failed to produce any real evidence at trials, relied on fakers, or they used this con-artist as an impartial expert witness (as have the CPS, most worryingly):

An expert witness on foxhunting and animal welfare accused of ‘misrepresenting science’

Expert Witness Testimony Discredited By a Kiss; UK Huntsman Found Not Guilty

It is a great shame that the original owners of National Trust land did not get a vote. Many would be appalled to see how trail hunting was banned on a vote of just 2% of National Trust members. Moreover, if they knew the lack of quality of those pulling the strings – a myriad of bitter privilege checkers and class warriors – they’d be stunned. No doubt many are spinning in their graves already at how the National Trust is being run.

Nigel Bean is Country Squire Magazine’s Rural Affairs Correspondent.