Jacob Rees-Mogg 'hosted fox hunt where badger sett was illegally blocked'

Exclusive: ‘We hope his constituents will be making a complaint about his supporting this law-breaking hunt’

Saboteurs film illegally blocked badger sett at Jacob Rees-Mogg's hunt

Jacob Rees-Mogg has hosted a fox hunt at which a badger sett was illegally blocked, saboteurs claim.

Monitors have released a photo of hunters on horseback gathering at his Somerset home and footage they say is evidence of a badger sett having been covered over just as hounds were approaching.

Badgers are protected by law, and interfering with their setts is illegal – as is hunting foxes with hounds.

Hunts often cover the entrances to badger setts to prevent foxes fleeing a chase from going to ground.

Saboteurs said the Mendip Farmers Hunt met at Mr Rees-Mogg's home in West Harptree last Saturday.

It’s believed the leading Conservative Brexiteer did not join or follow the hunt.

The monitors said they heard hounds “in cry” – the noise they make when on the scent of a fox – before the pack headed towards the badger sett at speed.

Several entrances to the sett had been blocked, according to the sabs, who distracted the hounds.

“As sabs approached the covert containing the sett, several shifty-looking terriermen also quickly scarpered on their quads,” the group reported.

“We believe the terriermen started to block the sett as the hunt were approaching but stopped when they heard sabs rating the hounds nearby.

The hunt gathers at the MP’s historic Somerset property

“About half the entrances were freshly blocked with fresh earth, and clear spade marks were visible.”

Men in hunting jackets were filmed riding past as sabs, from Bristol and Bath, unblocked the holes.

The monitors, who filmed their GPS location near Chewton Mendip and the date, had earlier seen a fox in the area and said it was likely one would have been caught had they not intervened.

Mendip Hunt Watch posted on Facebook: “We hope his constituents will be making a complaint about Jacob Rees-Mogg supporting this law-breaking hunt.

“We find it curious and disturbing that an elected representative should be so blatantly complicit in what is clearly an illegal act.”

Mr Rees-Mogg has expressed support for fox hunting in the past, saying it is the most humane way of controlling the fox population.

His wife, Helena, was a master of the Mendip Farmers Hunt from 2012 to 2014.

Social-media users reacted furiously. One wrote: “They have no shame – not only out to kill our foxes but our badgers too.”

Some called for him to be sacked as an MP.

A fan of Mr Rees-Mogg told him: “Please tell me this isn’t true. If it is I have to seriously question my support of JRM – you will lose a lot of support because of this!”

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Since hunting wildlife with hounds was banned in 2005, hunts say they use artificial trails instead of chasing foxes. Terriermen are employed by hunts to block up setts and fox holes before the chase so the fox cannot escape.

On hosting the hunt, Mr Rees-Mogg told The Mirror: “The Mendip Farmers trail hunt in accordance with the law, so are welcome.”

The Independent has asked Mr Rees-Mogg to respond to the claims of illegal activity.

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