Mon 20 Sep 2021-“The Guardian”
The director of the body representing foxhound packs encouraged members to use trail hunting, where horseback riders with dogs follow trails laid with scent in advance, as a “smokescreen” for illegal foxhunting, a court has heard.
Mark Hankinson, the director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association and an employee of the Hunting Office, appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Monday charged with encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence because of his comments.
Mark Hankinson outside court. He denies an accusation of “giving advice to a webinar audience on how to conceal their illegal hunting activity”
The 60-year-old, of Frampton Farm, Sherborne, Dorset, was charged after footage from a training webinar for MFHA members, broadcast in August 2020, was obtained by hunt saboteurs, who passed it to the media and the police.
Hankinson appeared at Westminster magistrates court wearing a navy pinstripe suit and polka-dot tie, for the first day of his trial.
“His intentions shine through very clearly,” Gregory Gordon, prosecuting, told the court.
“The prosecution say that the defendant gave advice on how to make it more difficult to be able to prove that an illegal hunt was happening. He gave advice on how to use trail hunting, in his own words, as a ‘smokescreen’ behind which illegal hunting could continue.
Gordon said it could be inferred that Hankinson intended his advice to be used to hide illegal hunts. “With the context of hunting in mind, the meaning of his words were clear and obvious to his audience, as he must have intended them to be,” Gordon said.
In trail hunting, devised after the Hunting Act banned the hunting of foxes with dogs, a “trail layer” goes out ahead of the hunt, dragging a rag coated in an animal scent, the court heard.
Huntsmen cast the hounds to this scent, so that they follow it to the end of the trail.
To the casual observer, traditional foxhunting and trail hunting look effectively the same, Gordon said.
“That is what makes it such a potentially useful smokescreen because if a hunt can pretend to lay trails and then the hounds catch the scent of a fox then a huntsman can say: ‘I thought they were hunting a trail and I didn’t call the hounds off until it was too late.’
“So that is what the prosecution say Mr Hankinson was encouraging.”
An application by Hankinson’s defence to strike out the video evidence, on the grounds it was obtained by fraud, was refused by the deputy senior district judge, Tan Ikram.
Hankinson’s barrister, Richard Lissack QC, then sought to cast aspersions against the hunt saboteurs who obtained the video.
Lissack claimed the Hunt Saboteurs Association included “violent, menacing individuals” and the police took “extremely seriously” the threat posed by its “extreme wing”.
“For example, the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism department publish frequently a table of flags and emblems or organisations starting literally with Islamic State and al-Qaida, and for domestic extremism the HSA are one of the four organisations named,” (!!!) Lissack said.
Monday staging a theatrical demonstration with a smoke machine and a man dressed in the red coat of a fox hunter.
They greeted Hankinson with a chorus of boos as he arrived.
And I mean…It may seem unlikely at first glance, but the same psychopathy that causes a hobby hunter to hunt brutally a fox or let him be massacred of the dogs could also cause a man to break into a house and ram a knife into the body of the people who live in it.
The danger exists, because hunters are psychopaths
And these people are among us.
They are military officials, veterinarians, gynecologists, dentists or lead scout groups.
A number of factors, such as genes, family relationships, upbringing, intelligence, and opportunities, shape a psychopath.
Just like serial killers, hunters must prove their status as a person who has power over life and death.
They choose – with enthusiasm – to take a life to satisfy their own selfish desires.
They plan their bloodlust carefully and then kill over and over again with no prospect of an end …
Hunters have upper-class relationships and a powerful status.
We hope that the judge won’t be sacked, if they find Hankinson guilty.
My best regards to all, Venus