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.”