POLICE in the UK have charged hunting chief Mark Hankinson, the director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, with intentionally encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence under the Hunting Act.
Hankinson was charged by the Devon and Cornwall Police after the hunting chief allegedly discussed how hunters could cover up their activities.
The 60-year-old is due to appear before Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on March 4 after police claim he held a digital meeting for hunting fans on August 11 last year.
One of the online meetings was allegedly attended by more than 100 hunters.
Fox hunting has been illegal since 2005 and the Hunting Office, which administrates hunting with hounds, dismissed claims that online training was used to help hunters cover up illegal hunts.
It said: “The Hunting Office is facing allegations that training webinars run during August were organised for the purposes of covering up unlawful hunting.
“The truth is that two, hour-long, Hunting Office webinars clearly dealt with the operation and promotion of legal trail hunting and managing animal rights activism.
“The allegation that they were organised to discuss covering up unlawful activities is totally incorrect and can only be made by taking a few individual short comments completely out of context.
“As you will be aware hunts face almost daily spurious allegations of illegal activity from anti-hunt saboteurs and professional activists, and therefore not only have to operate within the law, but also have to be able overtly to demonstrate that they are doing so at any time.”
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