Following the pack

This week’s note from Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive.

One of the inconvenient truths that the hunters struggle with is that the vast majority of the public just don’t agree with them. Their answer to this problem seems to be to create a faux public for the media who do agree with them. If you look closely at the responses to articles hostile to their views, time and again the same names crop up again and again, all over the country.

One of the things that I find fascinating is how technologically illiterate some of the apologists for the hunters actually are. They don’t seem to realise that, like foot prints in the snow, every computer has an IP address and an IP address is a dead giveaway: particularly when the IP address is also used for official communications from a certain organisation we all know quite well!

When the same names pop up on the radio shows as the people who just happened to call in because they were listening, we know their voices, but they don’t say who they work for or are members of. It is very tempting to say, “hello Mary”, or whomsoever, how nice to hear from you again.

The scripted response now seems to be spreading to MPs and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. They seem to speak with one voice and to the same script. So much for democracy and independent minds and free votes; here we seem to have a group of people some of whom at least who are told how to think and what to say. They copy verbatim the model letters on issues, such as hunting, that they have been supplied with by guess who.

What will look to a constituent, supporter or potential voter like a candidate or sitting MPs personal view, has been carefully crafted as a model answer to the question and supplied to them for use with constituents and or potential supporters. Heaven help them if their potential voters get together to compare letters! We have done just that and it makes their personal letters look less than wholly personal to the constituent.

I am reminded of that old poster of the mafia don looking at one of his foot soldiers , and saying, “when I want to know what your opinion is, I will tell you what it is”. Capiche?

Whether it is cynicism, laziness or a clear demonstration that they do not have minds of their own, the use of pro-forma letters to formulate supposedly personal replies to voters who have expressed concerns and sought the views of the person they have written to, does not engender voter trust.

I am tempted to supply copies of the pro-forma replies for people to attach to their letters, so that they can ask for an original and personal reply. After all, if they had wanted to get a pro-forma reply from a pro bloodsports lobbying organisation, they would have written to them direct and not to their MP or Parliamentary Candidate.

The Countryside Alliance seem at last to accept that RIPA does not apply to the League and to independent monitors who are not acting as private investigators for the police. That said, they have continued to make the absurd suggestion that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will in some way be infringing civil liberties if they prosecute criminals based on evidence gathered by members of the public!

There is something fundamentally bizarre about a group of people arguing that there is no crime because there is no admissible evidence of the crime, or even arguing as they do, that while there may be evidence of a crime, it shouldn’t be used in a prosecution.

By the extension of their own logic, their activities are supposedly not criminal because the evidence of their crimes can’t be used to prosecute them. That is so daft a proposal, that it should not be given the media coverage that it has.

Some of the newspapers that have run with the hunters’ line about “you are not allowed to see a crime on privately owned land” have gone even further and have suggested that the person seeing and recording what they think may be a criminal act is in some way themselves a criminal. By taking that sort of approach they suggest to criminals that the people monitoring them are on the wrong side of the law. Worse still when monitors pictures are published in papers or on the web, they are treading on very thin legal ice.

From a legal perspective, making a person a target is tantamount to an incitement to violence against the person, and if there is later an assault, the person or organisation responsible for identifying the targeted person could find themselves and their organisation in the dock defending a claim for damages. Believe me this is no idle speculation. In the last week alone I have seen both on the web and in the press such identification of individuals and I have already heard reports of an alleged assault by a hunt supporter or follower on a person monitoring a hunt.

Perhaps it is a statement of the obvious, but law abiding people and organisations should be opposing crime and supporting law enforcement. They should not be attempting to hide the evidence of crime from the police and the courts behind a spurious cloak of privacy.

As we approach the anniversary of the Hunting Act, it is worthwhile remembering what has been achieved. It is now a crime to set a dog onto a wild mammal for sport. The Countryside Alliance had said that the passage of the Act would be a catastrophe and that terrible things would follow. They also claimed that the Act would not work and could not be enforced.

The hunters and their pro bloodsports apologists were wrong. The sport of hunting within the law is more popular than ever before, the numbers of prosecutions and convictions for illegal hunting has increased year on year and more and more hunts are claiming to be trail hunting and hound exercising within the law.

And yes you will all say that there are still far too many people breaking the law, and that the hard core hunters are determined to carry on as before, and you would be right to say that. There are far too any accidents and incidents and there is still a hard core of determined criminals with the hunting fraternity. But the law is working, they are being brought to book and more and more they are being driven to the margins of the hunting community who do not want to get a criminal record when they go out with the hunt. The law does work, and cruelty to a wild animal for sport is a crime. Long may it be so!

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    gilesbradshaw said,

    Douglas RIPA only protects people against unwarranted surveillance. Why would you even want the right to conduct unwarranted surveillance?

  2. 2

    gilesbradshaw said,

    and tracking ppls IPs is just sad mate.


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