Dear Mr Campion,
As PCC for West Mercia I am appealing to you to look into allegations of pro-hunt bias in the West Mercia police force.
I understand that 'PCCs have been elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.' There has been considerable speculation on social media that when it comes to illegal hunting, the West Mercia police show bias in favour of hunting with allegations of a pro hunt culture and possible links to freemasonry- a link highlighted in the Operation Tiberius report from 2002 which made for worrying reading.
Furthermore, video evidence from anti hunting protestors suggests bias in police attitudes and I note a freedom of information refusal notice on the West Mercia police website which states an 'excess of 880 records returned' linked to hunting. This information is therefore not available publicly, doing little to allay concerns.
I note that one of your key election pledges was to 'work towards...a more reassured West Mercia'. I am certainly not reassured by anything I have heard, and the slow progress of charging suspects in the case of the live fox cubs thrown into a kennel full of hounds is absolutely outrageous. That video caused outrage when it was featured in the national press-not only is such an act illegal, it is a shocking example of hunt deceit whereby the claim that hunting is any form of 'pest control' is revealed to be a lie.
I don't know how familiar you are with other instances of hunt crime but there have been numerous cases of captive animals found on hunt property as a ready supply to chase. The leaked email by Simon Hart of the countryside alliance warning of a nationwide shortage of foxes and an urging of landowners to breed more (with the line that any public knowledge of such facts would ruin the reputation of hunting by making it 'a laughing stock' as it clearly counters the argument of 'pest control') was telling.
My concern is that any bias in the West Mercia police encourages hunts such as the South Hereford to feel that they are at liberty to flout the law and can be reassured that the police will turn a blind eye. This would, surely, be an outrageous situation. Whatever views one may hold on the issue of hunting morally, the police have a duty to be impartial and to prosecute fairly any instances of law breaking-which the cub case clearly is.
I do hope that you will look into this matter and, as per your election promise, reassure the many of us concerned about a culture of bias towards this issue that it has been addressed and eradicated in West Mercia. I suspect that you will be shocked at the outrage that will erupt if the South Hereford hunt case runs out of time before reaching court. Despite its release on the day of the EU referendum, the case was featured in almost all the national papers as well as the BBC-the public overwhelmingly oppose hunting according to the most recent polls and the Hereford case was particularly outrageous.
I will be forwarding a copy of this email to the IPCC as I am very concerned that this matter is not being taken seriously. I have as yet still had no response from the West Mercia police and little I have seen has raised any hopes that this is all above board.
I do hope that you will do your best to communicate my concerns to the police and I look forward to your response-and a swift charging of those responsible.
Background - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36598935
Op-ed: “Sick hunt saboteurs troll family of girl, nine, tragically kicked to death by a horse”
This is the headline in just about every national media outlet in the U.K. alongside the picture of a sweet-faced little girl who looks so happy with her pony. Some of the comments are nasty beyond the point of all decency, and although the people who made those comments may yet be investigated by the police, that won’t take away the heart-stopping pain little nine-year-old Bonnie’s parents will be feeling right now, or help them to fill the void of losing an innocent and precious little daughter in the years to come.
Bonnie Armitage was out on her pony with the Cotswold hunt in Miserden, near Stroud, Gloucestershire on Saturday, when she was kicked by a horse and knocked out of the saddle.
She died later in hospital.
A tragic loss of a young life; and why that should prompt any adult who professes to be a compassionate human being to choose to post such hateful comments seems as irrational as it is to be deplored.
Cotswold hunt master, James Chamberlain said he hoped none of the comments would have been read by the family. He added that it was sad there are people like that out there.
Sad indeed, and sad that the National press decided to run with the story in the first place. Hardened reporters feigning mock indignation whilst not caring that Bonnie’s parents might read the articles which would undoubtedly add to their pain.
Without any supporting evidence whatsoever, whoever leaked this story, claimed it was the hunt saboteurs who made the comments.
All of the comments from anti-hunting groups expressing sympathy and empathy have been ignored in favour of those which would cause most outrage.
It is beyond sad that whoever leaked the story to the press decided that point scoring against the hunt saboteurs was more important than giving a grieving family peace and respect at such a time.
It is well known that the Countryside Alliance has been trying for years, with little success, to discredit the saboteurs.
Certain pro hunting factions on face book continuously troll anti-hunting pages looking for ammunition to use against those trying to protect wildlife from hunting abuse.
It begs the question why did those people decide it would be better to blow the whistle to the press instead of reporting the commentators to the police? They chose instead to create a media circus in an effort to score points against a group of others in the hope it would further their cause for repeal of the hunting Act.
Some horrid people have said nasty things and others are using those comments as weapons like it's some childish game. Meanwhile the family of a little girl is trying to come to terms with an indescribable loss.
Some of us need to take a long hard look at ourselves.
Bonnie Armitage, nine, died from cardiac arrest after being kicked by horse at Cotswold Hunt meeting.
RIP Bonnie. Respect and deepest sympathy for Bonnie’s family.
Mr Dowling’s article informed us that the lady was an only child and her surviving parent, who is elderly, is being sheltered from the comments by friends and family members. It is indeed heart-breaking to think that a mother may be subjected to unkind comments about the child she has just lost, and had those comments remained only on FaceBook where they originated, it is extremely unlikely that she would ever have known of their existence.
However in their eagerness to score points against the anti-hunt movement as a whole, the pros have once again ridden over the sensibilities of others proving they have one agenda, and that agenda has nothing to do with empathy or compassion.
The pro-hunters who supplied the information claimed to have seen a thousand comments on FaceBook, which they say continued to be posted after the huntswoman died. Rick Jones, from the FaceBook group ‘Ban Hunt Saboteurs’ was especially vocal, although he did not mention the abusive comments made at an earlier time by some of his group members when they expressed their regret that saboteurs trying to prevent illegal hunting had not been run over by a Landrover or harmed by galloping riders!
On a separate occasion, pro-hunting Internet trolls were particularly vicious about a 40-year-old saboteur known as Nid, who was allegedly deliberately ridden down by a rider from the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale hunt.
The rider didn’t stop, and the saboteur was left lying semi-conscious, with seven broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a punctured lung.
It was alleged that the attending ambulance was blocked by the hunt support and the severely injured saboteur was air lifted to hospital by helicopter. Some of the commentators even went so far as to express regret that the incident had not been fatal.
Others prayed that the pain was excruciating, and one offered to buy the huntsman, Mark Doggrell, a case of wine.
Hunting is an emotive issue, and it is particularly despicable that the pro-hunt lobby should use the death of a leading huntswoman to try to score political points in their fight against those who risk their lives every week to try to save our wildlife from being torn apart in the name of entertainment.
Perhaps if the hunters were more respectful of the family of the lady who died they would not have contacted a national newspaper where the comments were printed in their entirety for the grieving family to see.
It is obvious to any bystander that the article is sensationalism, written to shock and not written out of consideration or respect. Nico Morgan, a photographer friend of the deceased, even attempted to bring up the ‘class issue’, which is a favourite ploy among the hunting set as they cannot refute the evidence of animal cruelty in a traditional fox hunt.
The pros went further and contacted the places of work of those who had left the comments. There followed several posts claiming gleefully that the commentators had been sacked.
Revenge is obviously a dish best served cold, but to use the death of an innocent lady in order to further their pro-hunting agenda is more in keeping with spiteful brinkmanship than any desire to show genuine concern.
You can view the full Sunday Times article here
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