Hunt Thugs Caught on Camera


Fernie hunt employees face prosecution after being filmed by anti-hunt groupBoth men are due to appear at Market Harborough Magistrates' CourtTwo employees of a hunt face prosecution after being filmed by an anti fox-hunting group.
Fernie huntsman Derek Hopkins and Kevin Allen, a terrierman, are being prosecuted for alleged offences under the Hunting Act 2004 and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. The alleged offences have not yet been specified but are understood to have involved disturbing a badger's sett. They are alleged to have taken place on Wednesday, January 27 at Thorpe Langton, near Market Harborough. It is alleged the men were caught on camera by observers working for the League Against Cruel Sports.
Summonses were sent out on Tuesday last week. Both men are due to appear at Market Harborough Magistrates' Court on Thursday, August 19. Under the law which came into force in February 2005, hounds may be used to flush out a fox but cannot be used to kill it. Other methods, such as shooting, must be used.
Mr Hopkins became the huntsman at the Fernie in 2000. Neither Mr Hopkins nor Mr Allen could be contacted at the kennels. Each year, thousands of visitors and supporters attend the Boxing Day meeting held on the village green near the kennels in Great Bowden.
Joe Cowen, co-master of the Fernie Hunt, said he was unaware of the alleged offences. He said: "I do not know the circumstances, but I am sure they will be vigorously denied." The Fernie has been hunting in south east Leicestershire since the middle of the 19th century, after previously being part of the Quorn Hunt.
A spokesman for the national Masters of Foxhounds Association said: "We were aware of a possible prosecution but have not been informed that it was proceeding.
"Therefore, we cannot comment."
A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports said the prosecution of Mr Hopkins and Mr Allen followed evidence gathered by hunt observers working for it being passed to police.
He said: "This is the fourth such case to proceed to court this year."
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire police said: "We cannot comment as the case is now before the court."
A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said it would be supporting the Fernie, which has continued to hunt legally since the new law was introduced.
He said: "We are confident the two people involved will be found not guilty should the case come to court."


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