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Hunters on horses scuffle with saboteurs: ‘You want a f****** fight?’

‘We could have gone to social media with the footage with two years ago but we wanted to go to court and do it the right way’, protesters say after court case collapses

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 06 March 2019 16:10 GMT
Hunters charge saboteurs hitting them with whips

Men on horseback are seen charging at hunt saboteurs, attacking them with whips and fighting, in footage showing the violence those disrupting hunts can encounter.

The video clip emerged after the trial of three hunters charged with offences including wounding, affray and ABH collapsed when a judge refused to adjourn the case after new evidence was presented by the prosecution at the last minute.

During the protracted incident, which involved the Middleton and Derwent Hunt in Yorkshire last year, hunters are seen riding their horses at masked hunt saboteurs, lashing at them with whips and brawling on the ground.

At one point during the 15-minute scuffle, a hunter is seen dismounting and going after those seeking to disrupt the hunt on foot.

“You want a f***ing fight? You can fight,” he says. “I’m off the horse, come on.”

The same man then confronts a protester wearing a mask over his face and holding a spray bottle containing a liquid which throws hounds off the scent of foxes.

He manages to tear the mask away as another hunter grabs the bottle and begins to spray the demonstrator in the face.

“Go-on, give him some of it,” the hunter is heard saying.

Another clip shows two men brawling on the ground – the hunter wearing a tweed jacket, jodhpurs and velvet helmet cover while astride the saboteur as they brawl.

Meanwhile a second protester is forced into a hedge by a horse rearing up into him.

Two of the protesters suffered cuts and bruises and another two had cameras stolen in the fracas, according to saboteur Tommy Woodward.

A hunter from the Middleton and Derwent Hunt in Yorkshire is seen straddling a protester in the fracas in 2018 (SWNS)

The 53-year-old builder said: “In 30 years of doing this that was the most frightening situation I’ve found myself in.

“It was so prolonged and there were so many people.

“When these people are on their horses they’re so much higher than you, it’s intimidating.

“Some of the women on our side were five foot tall.

“I thought someone was going to get trampled by a horse and seriously injured.

“We were trying to get away but we couldn’t find a way.”

Following a two day hearing at York Crown Court the charges against the men were dropped.

A CPS spokesman said the court was provided with new evidence on the day of the trial so applied for an adjournment, which the judge refused.

Therefore, the trial didn’t go ahead and the case was closed.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We take any allegation of illegal hunting extremely seriously and where our prosecution test is met, we will not hesitate to take action.

“We keep cases under constant review and in this instance we were provided with a quantity of new, relevant material on the day of the trial.

“‎We have a legal obligation to share relevant information with the defence and recognised there was insufficient time so we requested an adjournment which was not granted by the judge.

“This meant we could not fulfil our duty to ensure a fair trial so we could not proceed.”

Mr Woodward, who would have been a witness in the case, said he’s “disgusted” that “justice hasn’t been done”.

He said: “We could have gone to social media with the footage two years ago but we wanted to go to court and do it the right way.

“We had video from four cameras and eight witnesses, so I thought we had quite a strong case.

“Before all this happened I had full faith in the judicial system, but that’s been shaken now.

Derwent and Middleton Hunt refused to comment on the incident.

Additional reporting by SWNS

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