As the Hunting Regulatory Authority takes shape, the newly appointed chair, Lord Donoughue, has called for legislation to outlaw cruelty to wild mammals. Tragically this seems to be at odds with the League Against Cruel Sports(LACS), who has long seemed to be less intrested in the prevention of cruelty to animals than campaigning against people.

LACS’ Chief Executive, Mr Batchelor, has said in his blog, “Lord Donoughue is apparently planning to put forward some sort of Private Members’ Bill in the House of Lords, which would make it an offence to be cruel to a wild mammal. The problem with that suggestion is that someone would actually have to be cruel to the animal before they could be charged with any offence.” 

The idea that a crime must be commited before charges are brought has been a foundation of our legal system, yet Mr Batchelor seems to identify this as a flaw.

He continues, “Trying to prove that the fox that the hounds had ripped apart and then eaten had suffered before it died would be extremely difficult in court without a body to produce in evidence. Worse still, such legislation would not actually make it a crime to deliberately chase or to set dogs on to a wild animal for sport.” In saying that “to deliberately…set dogs on to a wild animal for sport” would not be covered by the proposed legislation, he admits that it does not constitute cruelty and makes a futher mockery of LACS’ campaign to ban hunting and the Hunting Act itself.

Head of Countryside Alliance Media, Tim Bonner, has responded, “Mr Batchelor is admitting that LACS actually has no interest in legislation that actually addresses cruelty. For years we have argued that a prohibition on hunting had nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with a misplaced hatred of people who hunt. Now Mr Batchelor has accepted that the case against hunting is unproven, and unproveable, on welfare grounds and that it is the activity, rather than any impact on animal welfare, that so offends anti-hunting activists.” 

Mr Bonner has also reminded us that James Barrington and Richard Course, previous Chief Executives of LACS, left the organisation having concluded that banning hunting would be detrimental to animal welfare and concludes, “This strange, but revealing, statement from Mr Batchelor suggests he, too, might be on the verge of a Damascene conversion. It is a small step from accepting that there is no animal welfare case against hunting to concluding that the campaign to prohibit it is unjustified and counter-productive.”

  • Nick Maggs

    Mr Hayworth (comment 25 July) is relly mixed up since as he doesn’t read the magazine but writes in to post a comment .I think he may be one of those politically correct queers or transexual lesbians that seem to want to rule the rest of our lives and interfere . I hope he finds a new magazine that writes about what he likes – crocheting for pansies!

  • Heidi

    This is classic spin. The League Against Cruel Sports has been campaigning against cruelty for over half a century. The campaigns against hunting are not emotive because they are against the people who chose to hunt, they are emotive because they do not like seeing a wild animal being chased to an imminent and barbaric death. Mr Batchelor’s comments have been misinterpreted in order to create some sort of confusion and division in the anti-hunting groups.

    No matter what spin the CA tries they cannot say that hunting is not cruel.

  • Geoffrey Woollard

    Talking of Damascene conversions, I am reminded by this piece of when I used to buy and to enjoy The Field. As a life-long countryman and as a Cambridgeshire farmer, I can recall the good times when this magazine was filled with fine properties for sale, reports of agricultural shows and good farming practice, articles on antiques and art and other pleasant matters. Now, The Field is full of pro-hunting and pro-hare coursing rubbish that really holds no appeal for the likes of me. I detest the magazine and I have been converted to purchasing more attractive reading material. I will never buy The Field until it, too, is converted to decency towards our wild animals.

  • mhayworth

    Well, the Countryside Alliance is really scraping the barrel with this one. They must be absolutely desperate when they start twisting words to this extent. Those who read this article may also want to check out the real circumstances in which the two previous executives left the League. The truth is certainly not something they would be boasting about, but if they were truthful they would also have to admit that the hunts breed foxes in order to play ‘pest controllers’ and where would that information leave them on the ‘compassion for wildlife’ scale? Time for these people to grow up, move on, and find a more civilised pastime that doesn’t involve inflicting pain for their twisted sense of self-fulfillment.