LETTER : Fox hunters are hooligans 'Respectable' rural hooligans

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The Independent Online
HAVING lived in the heart of hunting territory for 26 years, I resent Eric Bettelheim's assumption that those of us who oppose the hunt are "our contemporary enemy, the animal rights brigade" ("Hunting supporters bite back", 12 November).

My own grounds for opposition, which I suspect are shared by many other local residents, revolve precisely around issues of law and order. Every hunt season here brings with it the usual appalling litany of reported cases involving wanton trespassing, highway obstruction, criminal damage and general acts of vandalism by the local hunts and the mobs that follow them. Remonstration on the spot is invariably met with verbal abuse and/or threats of physical violence. Over time, I have written several letters to Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, always to be met by bland statements about the problems of law enforcement involved.

I have no doubt that if these episodes were carried out by council-house tenants, the law would very rapidly be enforced together with severe penalties. Epithets about the "yobs" and "thugs" involved would be liberally tossed about by the local press. But these perpetrators belong to a privileged class of offenders comprising, in many cases, doctors, lawyers, magistrates, social workers and other "respectable" folk.

In a letter published 20 years ago in our local press I described the hunt as "the rural equivalent of soccer hooligans". I still believe this to be the case.

Simon Bush

Tiverton, Devon