Police investigate ‘attack’ on local hunt kennels

Disgraced huntsman of the Ross Harriers, Lee Peters, who was found guilty of racially abusing a saboteur in November, claims to have had his pet dog killed and vehicle vandilised in an attack by animal rights activists.

The Ross Harriers hunt are in the media yet again this week with an article published claiming that the police are investigating an attack on their kennels, including the dumping of a dead dog on the huntsman’s driveway.

Police were called to the address in Coughton, near Ross-On-Wye last Tuesday, 19th March, to reports of criminal damage to a 4×4 belonging to the huntsman, David Lee Peters, and the death of his dog.  In the article an ‘anonymous source close to the hunt’ suggests that the attack and murder of the dog was the work of animal rights activists. The initials ‘ALF’ (standing for Animal Liberation Front) were apparently scratched onto the vehicle and the source claimed that the dog was ‘beaten to death.’

Questions raised

Questions are already being raised about the validity of the claims, especially regarding the involvement of animal rights activists.

Firstly and most obviously, what motivation would activists associated with the animal rights movement have for harming a dog, let alone ‘beating it to death’ and leaving it on the huntsmans driveway? The pro-hunting community often slander animal activists as ‘people haters’ but whatever point the activists could have wanted to make, either about hunting or about Peters himself, would vegetarian and vegan protesters who commit themselves to ending all animal exploitation (often at the risk of injury or arrest) have done something so counterintuitive and  opposed to their beliefs to make this comment? Given the obvious public backlash that would follow and the condemnation and even stronger backlash from the rest of the animal rights movement, we think not!

The ‘hunt source’ in the article heavily suggests that the ALF was responsible for the attack and attempts to explain who and what the ALF is. The Animal Liberation Front is a loose collection, or more accurately concept, often attributed to those who carry out non-violent direct action in defence of animals. Over its 40 year history the ALF has rescued (or ‘liberated’) hundreds of thousands of animals from places of cruelty and exploitation (including factory farms and animal experiment labs). It has also caused £millions of financial loss to those who profit from the exploitation of animals.

In the ALF aims and guidelines, which have to be clearly adherred to for the name to be used in a direct action, it is imperatively stated that activists should:

  • Take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human.

If this does not happen, then it quite simply is not an action of the ALF.

Vicious dog murderers or victims of slander campaign? Hunt saboteurs play with foxhounds rarely shown affection at the weekend.

Vicious dog murderers or victims of a slander campaign? Hunt saboteurs play with foxhounds who are rarely shown affection, at the weekend.

Hunt saboteurs are also mentioned in the article, as they are often active in the region close to the kennels and have previously attended meets of the Ross Harriers Hunt. Again there is the suggestion that they may have be involved in the attack, or that they and the ALF are one-and-the-same.

Hunt saboteurs also use non-violent direct action to save hunted animals. They put themselves between the hunted animal and the hunters, using scent-dulling sprays and hunting horns to mimik the huntsman and call hounds away from the hunted animal.

In the 50 years that hunt saboteurs have been active, there have been all sorts of accusations made against them by the hunting fraternity; spraying hounds with battery acid, using trip-wires to trip up horses, even bringing pre-caught foxes along and releasing them in front of hounds to prove that hunts are illegally hunting – none of which have ever been proven.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association introduction literature clearly states that saboteurs should never harm or put animals at risk, whether they are the hunted animal or animals used by the hunt. This is seen as somewhat of a golden rule by hunt saboteurs and monitors. The press officer of the Hunt Saboteurs Association commented on the incident saying:

“We simply do not engage in or condone criminal damage or any attacks on animals,”

“We engage in legal disruption of illegal hunting and we had nothing to do with this whatsoever.

“It doesn’t sound like the sort of thing the ALF would do either, killing a dog. They have been known to steal an entire pack of hounds, but they wouldn’t harm one.”

In short the murder of this innocent animal (if that is indeed what happened) is obviously a heinous crime, something that animal rights activists and hunt saboteurs would also be extremely opposed to, whoever it belonged to.


Attack on saboteurs by members of the Ross Harriers hunt last year.

The Ross Harriers – not so squeaky clean

It seems that the media (including, unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail) are swallowing up yet another animal rights scare story, without looking any deeper and only giving a glancing refference to the recent history of this particular hunt.

The Heckler has reported on the Ross Harriers a number of times in the recent past. In November, Peters was fined £720 by magistrates in Hereford and ordered to pay £200 compensation to a hunt saboteur he was found guilty of racially abusing during a meet at Aston Crews last January. In October a supporter of the Harriers was also found guilty of assaulting a saboteur and around this time last year members of the hunt attacked the vehicle of anti-hunt protesters and some of its occupants with an iron bar. Hardly the track record of law-abiding, non-violent and decent human beings and certainly far from the image of ‘victims’ that they appear to have gained with some.

A ‘false flag’ attack?

So with it looking extremely unlikely that the people who carried out the murder of this dog were associated with hunt saboteurs or the animal rights movement and the previous bad behaviour of the hunt examined, who could have been responsible? A number of possible (and in our opinion much more likely) explanations for the attack and who carried it out have been raised online:

  • It could be part of a smear campaign by the hunting community to slander hunt saboteurs and animal rights activists. Lee Peters is appealing his conviction of racially abusing a saboteur last year, and the retrial will be heard at Worcester Crown Court in the Summer. The media attention and police investigation would serve as a well timed attempt to gain public support for Peters and to discredit and put pressure on the activists who oppose him and who will presumably play a part in the case against him.
  • It could have been committed by somebody with a personal gripe against Peters, or another rival, local hunt. There are often bitter rivalries over hunting territory, support and finances. The pro-hunting community have also been known to dump dead foxes at the houses of hunt opponents, have killed and injured pet animals (such as dogs) and have vandalised vehicles and houses. This sounds awfully similar to the type of attack described in the article, and the ‘antis’ would make for perfect cover for such an attack.
  • It could have been proponents of the upcoming badger cull, which will take place in the area. The badger cull is conveniently mentioned in the article and by the hunt’s ‘anonymous source,’ without anything else suggesting that this alleged ‘ALF action’ had anything to do with the cull. By making it look like ‘animal rights extremists’ are operating in the area, the police would be forced to take more of an active interest in pursuing the animal rights activists who would oppose the cull.
  • The ‘ALF’ attack on the vehicle could have been an action genuinely committed by animal rights activists, with the dog being dumped (or planted) by others afterwards – the dog either dying of natural causes and being made to look like it was killed, or being killed in a more sinister manner. Again this could serve to discredit the action and the activists, by giving a scapegoat for the death and turning the media attention to what the hunting community would portray as ‘hypocritical hunt opponents.’

It is not unheard of for such ‘false flag’ attacks to happen, after all. Back in 1990 an unheard of group called the ‘British Animal Rights Society’ claimed responsibility for having attached a nail bomb to a huntsman’s Land Rover in Somerset. Forensic evidence led police to arrest the owner of the vehicle, who admitted he had bombed his own car to discredit the animal rights movement. He was jailed for nine months.

Whoever the perpertrator of the alledged attack on the Ross Harriers kennels was, we think there is more to this story than meets the eye…

Herefordshire huntsman fined £3000 after racially abusing hunt saboteur

Lee Peters, huntsman for the Ross Harriers Hunt who operate in south Herefordshire, has been found guilty of racially aggravated harassment and threatening behaviour after a three-day trial at Hereford Magistrates Court.

David Lee Peters – convicted racist huntsman

Peters, a 33-year-old father of two who lives in Coughton near Ross-on-Wye, was fined £720, ordered to pay £2,000 court costs and £200 compensation to his victim.

The conviction relates to an incident on January 7th 2012, when hunt saboteurs attended a meet of the Ross Harriers hunt at the Penny Farthing Inn at Aston Crews near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. Peters shouted racist abuse at a black saboteur and threatened to attack another. The comments were overheard by a local man who was in his garden next to the road. He soon after reported it to the police.

Lee Peters – shortly before his arrest

A saboteur who was present told the Heckler:

“We hadn’t long arrived near their meet, and were parked up in one of two land rovers on a verge on the side of the road. The Harriers left their meet at the Penny Farthing pub and came around the corner, with Lee Peters riding at the front. His aggressive behaviour started immediately.

“He shouted “you’re all going to fucking get it” and either kicked the side of the vehicle or hit it with his riding crop. He then went to the rear of the land rover and looked through the window. He then said very loudly – presumably to the rest of the nearby riders – “Look, they’ve even got a f***ing w** in here.” This was aimed at one of our number who’s a black female.

“Despite this aggressive and repulsive behaviour, we carried on with what we intended to do for the rest of the day- monitoring the hunt and intervening if we believed illegal hunting was taking place.

“Word had obviously got back to Peters that the police were now after him, as he left his horse and took the hounds into a hard-to-reach area on foot, thinking that he could evade the police who were patrolling the area in a number of vehicles. He was arrested not long afterwards.”

In a press release by the Hunt Saboteurs Association, spokesman Lee Moon said:

“Decent people know that racism is completely unacceptable.  The hunting community however appear to be stuck in some kind of time warp where it is still OK to use this kind of disgusting language.  Maybe they would like to join us in the 21st Century  and realise that racism, along with the senseless murder of animals in the name of sport, is something that society no longer tolerates.  We hope the Ross Harriers do the right thing and sack Mr. Peters immediately to show that they do not condone racism.”

This local hunt has a growing reputation for being badly behaved. Only a fortnight ago we reported that one of their supporters was found guilty of assaulting a saboteur on another occasion.

You can find out more about Hunt Saboteurs and opposing by visiting the local sab group’s website, or by reading our ‘interview with a hunt saboteur.’

Badger cull delayed until next summer

The pilot badger culls planned for two areas in the West Country have been postponed until next summer.

The Heckler previously reported on the trial badger culls, planned to begin in areas of west Somerset and west Gloucestershire this autumn. But last week the badgers and the animal activists opposing the cull won a reprieve with the news breaking that the cull would not begin until at least the summer of 2013.

Initially rumours were rife that the cull was about to commence, with areas near badger setts found baited and Natural England working around the clock to issue the final licences to farmers and marksmen. But at the 11th hour (quite literally), the task ahead seemed too overwhelming and uncertain. The National Farmers Union wrote to DEFRA asking for its postponement, claiming that the cull “cannot be confident of removing at least 70 per cent of the populations.” This followed the news that the number of badgers in the cull zones had been vastly underestimated.

Animal rights and badger activists are continuing to oppose the cull, by using the additional delay to garner more public support for their campaign and putting the pressure on those who will be carrying out the cull.

Hunt Saboteurs plan to use ‘non-violent direct action’ to disrupt the cull if and when it goes ahead

On 14th October, around 80 hunt saboteurs and animal activists gathered at the Forthampton shooting estate, near Tewkesbury, to “show their disapproval at the proposed cull.” Dozens of police officers, additional private security and even a police helicopter were mobilised to keep an eye on the protesters, who did little more than walk around footpaths on the estate, where badger culling was due to take place. The Hunt Saboteurs Association issued a press release detailing the protest, which can be read here.

According to the campaign group ‘Stop the Cull,’ fox hunt saboteurs and anti-cull activists are planning to attend the opening meet of the Ledbury Hunt at the Corse Lawn Hotel on Friday 2nd November, as the hunt has a number of people involved with the cull within its ranks and the hotel is linked to the Forthampton Estate.

For continued updates or to get involved in opposing the cull, visit the Stop the Cull and Hunt Saboteurs Association websites.

Hunt supporter pleads guilty to hunt saboteur assault

Hunt Saboteurs Association Press Release October 24th 2012

Paul Standen, a supporter of the Ross Harriers Hunt, pleaded guilty today to assaulting two hunt saboteurs. Standen, who was on trial at Hereford Magistrates Court, had to pay a fine, costs and compensation.

Standen-WebThe incident occurred in March this year when the Ross Harriers met at Kilpeck near Hereford. Standen drove his vehicle at a group of saboteurs before jumping out and violently pushing a female out of the way before punching another member of the group in the face. Unfortunately for him the whole attack was filmed and he was arrested.

Lee Peters, Master of the hunt, is also in court next month for racially abusing a hunt saboteur.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “It is always a pleasure to see justice done, however we wish Mr. Standen had done the honourable thing and pleaded guilty much earlier in the proceedings and saved the tax payer a great deal of money. We look forward to a similar result next month when Mr. Peters is in court and we hope the Ross Harriers will start to realise they are not above the law.”

The Heckler has previously reported on the Ross Harriers hunt and their bad behaviour. Back in January, their huntsman was arrested for racially abusing a saboteur. In March some of their supporters attacked saboteurs with an iron bar and damaged a vehicle.

Conflict in the countryside as badger cull set to start

Yesterday over a hundred people gathered outside the annual Tory Party Conference in Birmingham to protest against the upcoming pilot badger cull planned for two areas in the West Country, the latest part of an increasingly intense debate over the morality and practicality of killing badgers to lower TB in cattle. 

For a number of months now a battle has been brewing in the countryside, between dairy farmers and those advocating a cull of badgers, and seemingly the vast majority of the public who’re opposed to the cull alongside the animal rights activists vowing to stop it. It looks like the cull is about to begin and this battle may finally come out into the open.

This cull is to be a ‘trial’ held over 4 years, consisting of 6 week periods when badgers can be shot. Although the exact locations of the cull are being kept secret, this initial trial will be held in two general areas; west Somerset including parts of Exmoor and the Taunton Deane district and west Gloucestershire, including the Forest of Dean and stretching to Tewkesbury (including parts of the Malvern Hills district and small areas of southern Herefordshire). Areas near badger sets will be ‘baited’ with peanuts to encourage badgers, where marksmen will be waiting to shoot them at night.


DEFRA and the National Farmers’ Union are claiming that a cull is an effective way of lowering tuberculosis in dairy cows, a disease which some claim costs the farming industry and the government an estimated £75-100m a year. If carried out correctly and meeting certain criteria, culling could reduce incidence of bovine TB by an average of 16% over 9 years. For it to be effective, it is said that over 70% of badgers in the cull areas will need to be killed. It is believed that up to 130,000 badgers could be killed during the cull period.


Opponents from all corners are slamming this move for its immorality as well as its scientific invalidity. Many believe that the figures simply do not add up, and that the number of badgers that would need to be killed far outweighs such a small decrease in cases of bovine TB. DEFRA have issued guidelines to marksmen taking part in the cull, including diagrams of which areas of the body they need to target. Despite this, it is still likely that some badgers will not be killed outright and will suffer a longer and more painful death. Vaccination is being cited as a much more ethical way of controlling the spread of TB, rather than a mass shooting. Vaccinating badgers that are caught in cages is currently being used and trialed in an area in Devon, as well as in Wales and Gloucestershire.


The science and the figures used to support the cull are also being questioned. Lord Krebs, a government science adviser and the mastermind behind another, more wide-spread trial badger cull in the 1990s recently came out saying he believed the cull scheme was ‘crazy.’ The Badger Trust went to the High Court earlier in the summer, hoping to get the badger cull overruled. Their case was built on their belief that the cull would be both ‘illegal and unscientific.’ It failed, but one of their main points what that the shooting of badgers would actually spread TB, as it would disperse badgers over a wider area more quickly and others would move in to take over territory that they had vacated.

Hunt Saboteurs Association members join others in a protest against the cull outside the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham at the weekend

A whole host of badger and animal rights groups have come out to oppose the cull. ‘Team Badger,’ consisting of well known groups such as the RSPCA, League Against Cruel Sports, the Badger Trust, including a number of celebrities (most notably Brian May), have been involved in a mass publicity campaign, through the media and by holding a series of well-attended speeches and meetings. They also created an online e-petition, calling on the cull to be banned. Within 3 weeks of being launched it reached over 100,000 signatures, meaning it will be debated in parliament.


Animal rights and vegan out-reach organisation, VIVA!, have been calling on the public to boycott the milk and dairy industry, stating the fact that it is dairy farmers and their lobbying groups initiating the cull.


Grassroots group ‘Stop the Cull’ have also been hitting the headlines, leaking sensitive information on the cull on their website and gathering information to help them take ‘non-violent direct action’ to disrupt the cull when it starts. The Hunt Saboteurs Association have also released statements saying they have recruited a number of new activists who are willing to go with them into the cull areas when it starts to sabotage  it. Hunt saboteurs groups and groups associated with ‘Stop the Cull’ claim they will turn up at night with powerful torches, air horns and wearing hi-visibility vests to scare off badgers and make the job of the marksmen difficult. Marksmen carrying out the shooting have been instructed to disarm their weapons and move away from the area if the come across demonstrators at night.

Animal rights activists have been collecting information and carrying out surveillance in the cull areas to help them take action when the cull begins

It was thought that the cull may have to be delayed until next year following the failed judicial reviews, appeals and delays in the issuing of the licenses allowing farmers to carry out the cull. But last week the second license was issued allowing farmers and marksmen to shoot badgers in Somerset and it now looks like it is set to start imminently. Police leave for Gloucestershire Constabulary has been cancelled until January in anticipation of protests and the media circus is sure to arrive soon. Whether the badger cull will be effectively carried out it yet to be seen, but it is almost certain that there are many who will be out in the countryside prepared to stop it.


People interested in helping to stop the cull or help with donations of money or equipment have been urged to get in touch with their local hunt saboteurs group or to contact Stop the Cull. Details for these, and other resources regarding the cull can be found below.  

Stop the Cull (Coalition of groups and activists collecting information and coordinating groups to take action against the cull)

Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs (Hunt saboteurs in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire who’ll be taking ‘non-violent direct action’ to try and stop the cull)

Hunt Saboteurs Association (National Hunt Saboteurs website with press releases and information about the cull)

Team Badger (Coalition made up of the Badger Trust, RSPCA, League Against Cruel Sports and others)

VIVA! pledge to boycott dairy

‘Stop the Badger Cull’ e-petition