Scores of Boxing Day hunts are expected to go ahead today after trail hunting was made exempt from the rule of six, meaning the number of participants, rather than spectators, permitted at the meets is limitless.
The traditional meet was expected to be shelved this year after the executive body for trail-hunting – The Hunting Office – sent a bulletin to roughly 250 packs across England and Wales telling them to cancel.
“The hunting community needs to take the lead during these extraordinary times and act respectfully and responsibly to help the fight against coronavirus … and to ensure the wellbeing of the local community who are so supportive each and every year,” a statement said.
But according to the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance many will still go ahead, albeit in a restricted fashion.
It said: “Many hunts across the country will be conducting their Covid-secure hunting activities on Boxing Day and throughout the festive season, but the traditional meets where town and country come together will not be taking place in their normal format this year.
“Like other outdoor sporting activities which continue to take place in accordance with the Government guidance, hunting activities will be starting from rural locations that are less likely to draw the usual crowds to ensure there isn’t any breach of legislation regarding large gatherings.
“With a quarter of a million people annually supporting hunting with hounds on Boxing Day, this much-loved and social event will be going ahead for participants only, without the thousands of spectators who usually line the streets of towns and villages in support of this lawful activity.”
One rule for them
Labour accused the Government of having one rule for them and another for everyone else after exempting Boxing Day hunts from Covid restrictions outside Tier 4.
New research has revealed that the Conservatives and Boris Johnson have taken over £1 million from donors linked to hunting.
Hedge fund boss Johan Christofferson has donated almost £200,000 to the Tories, most recently contributing £36,000 to Boris Johnson in 2019.
Christofferson was a fox hunt master on the Isle of Wight. He is joined by the Samworth brothers, who between them have donated £860,000 to the Conservatives. David Samworth is a former Quorn Hunt leader.
Animal welfare charity, the League Against Cruel Sports, has revealed that 69 per cent of the public thinks trail hunting should be banned, and only 25 per cent agree that hunting should be exempted from the Rule of Six.
“We need to close the loopholes”
Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, said:
“Families across the country are rightly following Covid restrictions this Christmas. But for those whose passion is hunting it is a festive free-for-all, after the Conservatives exempted them from restrictions outside Tier 4.
“Yet again, it’s one rule for the Conservatives and their mates, another for everybody else.
“We need to close the loopholes so fox hunting can be consigned to the history books where it belongs.”