People must abide by the law this Christmas and abandon the Boxing Day hunt

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Saturday 23 December 2017 14:15
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Fox hunting has been banned in the UK since 2004
Fox hunting has been banned in the UK since 2004

As Christmas approaches, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is warning anyone planning on taking part in Boxing Day hunts to abide by the Hunting Act and ensure there is no return to cruelty.

Boxing Day is the key date in the hunting calendar when apparent legal trail hunting is demonstrated to the media, though all too often trail hunting is used as a false alibi for illegal hunting. IFAW’s Trail of Lies report revealed that 99 per cent of monitoring operations looking at supposed legal trail hunting events found no evidence of anyone laying a potentially genuine trail. This led us to conclude that most hunts are not doing so, and that trail hunting was a concept invented to provide a false alibi to avoid prosecution for illegal hunting.

The chasing or killing of foxes and other British mammals with a pack of dogs was banned because the overwhelming majority of the UK public rejected this so-called “sport” as cruel and abhorrent. As a nation of animal lovers, we must do all we can to enforce and protect the Hunting Act and stop illegal hunters from “getting away with it”. Trail hunting must no longer be used as a false alibi to satisfy the bloodlust of a minority.

Hunters wishing to avoid the killing of foxes or other British mammals can easily switch to the cruelty free sports of drag hunting, following a non-animal based scent, or hunting with bloodhounds, where the pack follows a human runner.

Theresa May’s commitment to a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act during the snap General Election earlier this year resulted in a national outcry that some commentators noted may have had a real impact on her poor election result. This view is compounded by the fact that the Government swiftly U-turned upon re-election, stating there would be no free vote during this Parliament.

IFAW believes hunting with dogs was rightly consigned to the history books and there should be no further attempt at repeal.

Similarly, we are calling on the National Trust to ban all trail hunting on its land. Members voted on a motion to ban trail hunting on National Trust land in October, very narrowly losing the vote due to additional members’ votes left open to allocation by the Chair.

In response to the closeness of this vote, the Trust has attempted to tighten its rules for hunt licensing. However, it is worrying to read reports recently that unlicensed hunting activities may have taken place since on National Trust land. We’re sure the Trust will be doing everything in its power to address these reports and are grateful for eagle eyed members of the public for monitoring such activities.

Members of the public who see any suspicious behaviour by hunts, on Boxing Day or at any time, can call the police on their non-emergency number 101.

Philip Mansbridge – UK director, International Fund for Animal Welfare

25 December is an empty, commercial holiday

Forget Brexit, the big deal today is the commercialisation of Christmas. We have all forgotten its true meaning in a massive splurge on tasteless food, overpriced plonk, and shiny parcels. But does it matter? Maybe we have simply regressed to celebrating the passing of the winter solstice, with the promise of more warmth and sunshine to come. A pagan celebration with a long history. Sounds more relevant, doesn't it?

The story is that Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census. It must have been important as Mary was approaching term with her pregnancy, and it was a long dangerous journey from Nazareth. But the Roman census would probably have been in June. Not December. So we should be celebrating the birth of Jesus in June!

Think of the possibilities: two Christmases per year! And maybe the one in June might even remember what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Merry Saturnalia.

Bernard Cudd
Morpeth

If a blue passport is what it takes to reunite the country, it’s worth it

A blue passport is an excellent idea. It is going to be blue but otherwise identical to the maroon EU passport. That sounds like an emblem of our future relationship with the EU. The agreements made up to now, such as on the Irish border, suggest we will be “out” in name but effectively still “in” in practice. If a blue passport is what I takes to make those who voted for Brexit happy, that's ok by me.

Dale Thomson
Winchester

Did we really vote to leave the EU just to keep Nigel Farage’s passport fetish happy?

I just about managed to prevent myself from puking recently as I heard Farage crowing about the proposed blue passport (and flags and anthems).

If all it took to keep him happy was to change the colour of the passport binding – sing the national anthem and wave a flag – could we not have facilitated that for him somehow, maybe in a cellar with Princess Michael for company – instead of dragging the whole country and millions of people down the global socioeconomic and political sewer?

Amanda Baker
Edinburgh

Can we retire David Davis with the burgundy passport?

If we are announcing the removal of one “international humiliation” today, can we not make it a BOGOF and remove David Davis as well as the burgundy passport? Or could we simply tell Davis to BOGOF?

Geoff Blow
Lancashire

The idiocy of the blue passport has been exposed

Tom Peck – your article on blue passports was just brilliant. In the way you criticised this stupid idea, you summed up the whole of the Brexit mind set and exposed it for the small-minded, xenophobic, jingoistic delusion that it is. Thank you, from one of the many who are sickened by what is happening but feel powerless to stop it.

Terence Carr
Prestatyn

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