Hunting fraternity gather to remember rider killed in fall from horse

Mr Graham, pictured in October
Mr Graham, pictured in October

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Huntsmen and women from Leicestershire and further afield gathered at the weekend to pay tribute to a 54-year-old member of the Fernie Hunt who died in a horse-riding accident last week.

William Graham, formerly of Lubenham, near Market Harborough, fell from his dark bay horse as he jumped a timber fence in fields between Saddington and Mowsley on Wednesday, January 31.

An inquest on the father-of-three’s death has been opened and adjourned.

Mr Graham, pictured in action last month
Mr Graham, pictured in action last month

On Saturday, people from the hunting fraternity gathered for a day’s hunting near Hallaton, in his memory.

Philip Cowen, joint-master of the Fernie Hunt, said: “Many people who are connected with hunting in Leicestershire and further afield came together for a special day’s hunting which was dedicated to Will.

“ There is an incredible bond which runs throughout those who are involved with the hunt, whether as riders, followers or supporters and the moving tributes on that day will last long in all our memories.

“Will was a true gentleman and we all owe him so much for a life which has been cut short far too soon.”

Mr Graham was a member of the Fernie Hunt (Image: Andrew Carpenter)

He added: “Will fell from his dark bay horse as he jumped a timber fence mid-way between Saddington and Mowsley. The horse was not injured in the fall.

“Although born in Scotland, Will had lived locally for many years. He leaves a wife, Lucy, and their nine-year-old daughter, with two older children from a previous marriage.

“Will’s tragic death whilst out hunting with the Fernie last week has stunned and shocked us all. Sadly, he died when his horse fell on top of him at a fence which has been jumped on numerous occasions previously, close to Saddington village.

“There are no words to describe such a devastating loss particularly for his family, but also a great many other people in the locality who knew him so well.

Mr Graham, pictured in October
Mr Graham, pictured in October

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to them all at such a sad time. Will was a constant source of energy, passion, enthusiasm and determination in whatever he turned his hand to – whether in his line of business, when on the sportsfield or when relaxing at home. His loss to our community is immeasurable.”

He added: “Will was an accomplished and very competent rider who has followed the Fernie hounds for about 15 years.

“He particularly enjoyed both the social side of the sport, and the excitement which can be provided in both jumping natural obstacles and watching the hounds as they use their scenting abilities to follow the lines of the trail across natural country and open farmland.”

Polly Portwin, of the Countryside Alliance said: “Will was a great supporter and representative of the Alliance and we extend our deepest sympathies to Lucy, their family and all those closest to them.”

Chris Parker, also a joint-master of the Fernie Hunt said: “Sadly Will lost his life whilst enjoying a sport that he loved, and to which he has been a huge contributor both directly and behind the scenes for many years.

“He was clearly enjoying himself on the day in question right up to the moment that this dreadful accident occurred.

“Words do not adequately convey our emotions, or the profound degree of sympathy which we all feel for his wife, daughter and their wider family.

“He will be greatly missed by all his friends in not only the hunting world, but from many other aspects of life as well. He was also a hugely successful businessman, and he particularly enjoyed skiing and sailing.”

The inquest on the Mayfair, London, based investment management company director was opened at Leicester Town Hall and was adjourned, pending reports until April 23.

Fox hunting another battleground in U.K. general election

, USA TODAYPublished 6:05 a.m. ET June 7, 2017

LONDON — One of the sleeper issues in the United Kingdom’s parliamentary election Thursday is the future of that most iconic British tradition: the fox hunt.

The image of red-coated riders — bugles blaring, hounds barking, steeds galloping through the lush countryside — is familiar around the world. Tally-ho! Trouble is, chasing actual foxes was banned more than a decade ago because of a campaign by animal-rights activists.

Now, traditionalists are lobbying to bring back the real thing, and they have an advocate in Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Conservative Party hopes to defeat the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who called fox hunting a “barbarity” and vowed to keep it outlawed.

Hunting foxes with more than two dogs was banned in England and Wales in 2004 by the then-Labour government, with the measure going into effect in 2005. Hunters and their dogs instead could follow a trail of fox urine. May has pledged to hold a vote in Parliament on overturning the ban.

Animal rights groups also were infuriated when May said last month that she supports using real foxes again. “I was brought up in the countryside and yes, I do support fox hunting,” she said.

The Labour Party is urging people to sign a petition against overturning the ban.

Emily Whitfield-Wicks, 47, a photographer from Cornwall in southwestern England, where fox hunting is popular, said overturning the ban is “completely and utterly unnecessary.” She said the hunters keep their tradition alive with the hounds following a trail. She said foxes are still killed in order to get urine for the trails from their bladders.

“It’s just inhumane. They (the dogs) get to the fox and they rip it apart and that’s a horrible, horrendous way to die,” she said.

The Countryside Alliance, which promotes rural issues, said a near record 250,000 people attended last year’s Boxing Day hunts traditionally held the day after Christmas. That was despite a poll in September showing 84% of voters believe fox hunting should not become legal again.

Animal-rights advocates said more than 4,000 people marched in central London late last month, calling on May to keep fox hunting illegal, although the Countryside Alliance contests that figure.

A poll this month by market research firm Survation said half of voters were less likely to vote for a candidate who wanted a return to fox hunting, and 67% of voters believe it should remain banned.

Polly Portwin, a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance, said foxes have no natural predators and are considered a pest in rural areas, killing lambs, chickens and other animals.

“We don’t believe it’s a good law,” she said of the Hunting Act 2004. “There are things about it that don’t make a lot of sense. For example you can chase a fox with two dogs, but you can’t chase it with three.”

She said the law allows shooting and snaring animals, methods she says are “far more cruel,” than hunting with dogs. With shooting and trapping, animals can be maimed and suffer a slow, agonizing death, Portwin said.

“Hunting has become one of the big issues in this election, and it is now clear that it is an extremely toxic one for any pro-hunt candidate,” said Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, a British animal welfare charity.

The politicians need to hear from us LOUD & CLEAR – we will NOT vote for more animal abuse & cruelty. RT to stand up for animals

Goncalves said the group estimates an average of 16,000 incidents of illegal hunting occur each year since the ban began. The argument that fox hunting has anything to do with animal control is “a ruse,” he said.

“The reality is that fox hunts actually capture and raise foxes so they always have foxes to chase,” he said. “Foxes are not pests as they substantially help the rural economy by predating on rabbits, which in some places may cause agricultural damage.”

The Farmers Union of Wales is also calling for an end to the hunting ban. Wyn Jones, a farmer in Wales, said 114 of his lambs have been killed by foxes over the past four years, according to the Farmer’s Guardian.

“Those who dismiss this evidence and argue against a change … demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice animal welfare and the incomes of hard-working people,” Glyn Roberts, the union’s president, said in a statement.

Hunting poll: Do you agree with May that fox hunting should be legal?

PUBLISHED: 11:13 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:31 10 May 2017

Should fox hunting be legalised?

Should fox hunting be legalised?

A win for the Tories team could be bad news for foxes as the PM pledges a free vote to overturn hunting ban.

Theresa May has outraged animal lovers with a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting.

The Prime Minister said she was in favour of the outlawed activity but MPs would be given the final say.

David Cameron had promised to put the divisive issue to Parliament but did not go ahead with the plan due to a lack of support.

During a visit to a factory in Leeds, May said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against.

“As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote.

“It would allow Parliament the opportunity to take the decision on this.”

Should fox hunting be legalised?Should fox hunting be legalised?

Animal welfare campaigners criticised the move, pointing to a survey last year which revealed 84% of people were opposed to making fox hunting legal again.

David Bowles, head of public affairs for the RSPCA, said the Hunting Act had proved to be a useful piece of the legislative framework protecting wildlife in England and Wales.

“Fox hunting is a barbaric and brutal practice that has no place in civilised society.

“The Hunting Act was introduced to end the suffering caused to wild animals by chasing and killing them with a pack of hounds.

“Other blood sports such as dog fighting and cockfighting have been consigned to history and nobody is pushing for those to be legalised. Why should the hunting of Britain’s wild mammals be treated any differently?” he said.

League Against Cruel Sports chief executive Eduardo Goncalves said: “Britain’s voters have been waiting to hear what the next government will be doing on key issues like the NHS, education and Brexit.

“It’s a shame that Parliamentary time will be spent on trying to make fox hunting legal again.

“Are we really going to turn the clock back to a time when killing animals for fun was legal?

“I’m sure many current and future MPs of all colours feel the same way, so we hope they stand up and be counted when the time comes.”

Theresa May: I’m in favour of fox hunting

  • 9 May 2017

Media captionTheresa May is asked about her views on fox hunting

Theresa May has indicated she will allow Conservative MPs a free vote on whether to bring back fox hunting.

The PM, who says she has always been in favour of fox hunting, said it was up to Parliament to take the decision.

Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced the Hunting Act, which bans the use of dogs to hunt foxes and wild mammals in England and Wales, in 2004.

Tory Sir Roger Gale, seeking re-election in North Thanet, said many young party members were anti-hunting.

Mrs May was asked why she was committed to bringing back fox hunting during an election event in Leeds.

She replied that this was a situation “on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against”.

“As it happens, personally, I’ve always been in favour of fox hunting and we maintain our commitment – we had a commitment previously – as a Conservative Party to allow a free vote and that would allow Parliament to take a decision on this,” she said.

Her comments followed a Daily Mirror report that it had seen a leaked email from Conservative peer Lord Mancroft, chairman of the Council of Hunting Associations, in which he outlined how a Conservative landslide at the general election could result in changes.

According to the newspaper, Lord Mancroft wrote: “A majority of 50 or more would give us a real opportunity for repeal of the Hunting Act.

“This is by far the best opportunity we have had since the ban, and is probably the best we are likely to get in the foreseeable future.”

HuntingImage copyrightAP

The peer reportedly said Mrs May had offered assurances that the party’s manifesto would include a pledge to give MPs a free vote on repealing the act – something her predecessor David Cameron had also offered in 2015, but which had not yet happened.

Sir Roger Gale, president of Conservative Animal Welfare, said he would oppose any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act.

He said he understood there were around 30 to 50 anti-hunt Conservative MPs in the last Parliament, with the potential for the 2017 intake to have similar views.

“I cannot see many Conservative votes for fox hunting in marginal seats we are hoping to win,” he said.

He believed a “huge amount of parliamentary time and effort” had already been spent on the issue, with the existing law “probably as good as we can get” given the difficulty in satisfying everyone.

“We have more than enough to occupy parliamentary time with Brexit and all that follows,” he said. “In my view, it’d be folly to waste further time on the issue.”

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said the act had “failed”, adding that he would wait and see what was contained in the Conservative manifesto.

“The case of hunting and the case against the Hunting Act remains strong – and we will continue to make the case to politicians of all parties,” he said.

Woman Sprints In To Save Fox As Hunters Scream At Her

There’s simply nothing classy about fox hunting, a bloody tradition that uses dogs to tear foxes limb from limb.

While a ban on the cruel sport has been in place for a decade, it’s hard to enforce, and no one knows how many foxes are still killed each year.

But some animal activists in the U.K. are taking the law into their own hands, using whatever means they can to intervene on behalf of the defenseless animals hunted down despite the law protecting them.

Moving footage from 2012 shows the determination of a woman who couldn’t stand the cruelty.

Facebook/Leon Vegano Animal Sanctuary

The hunters sit astride horses in the fox hunting tradition, while their trained dogs do their dirty work.

Facebook/Leon Vegano Animal Sanctuary

The hounds are zeroing in on a tiny fox when a woman sprints towards them. She starts screaming at the dogs to get them to stand back.

Facebook/Leon Vegano Animal Sanctuary

She throws her own body on the fox and brings the shaking animal into her arms.

As she runs away with the fox, the hunters shout at her from their horses: “Leave it!”

Facebook/Leon Vegano Animal Sanctuary

Watch her beautiful act of bravery here:

Add your name to a petition that says the fox hunting ban needs to be more strictly enforced.

Briton Backsliding Too?

London (AFP) – Britain’s House of Commons will vote on the highly contentious issue of fox hunting next week, with critics claiming Wednesday that it could be a first step towards lifting an 11-year ban.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has admitted hunting with hounds in the past, is expected to vote next Thursday in favour of the move which would give more freedom to “flush out” foxes with dogs.

Hunting foxes with dogs has been banned across Britain since 2004 but Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives pledged to make it legal in their manifesto for May’s general election, which they won.

The issue is highly divisive in Britain, where critics often argue that hunting is a cruel pursuit for wealthy landowners and supporters say it is part of rural life and helps control a troublesome fox population that can kill livestock.

Drag hunts, where dogs follow an artificial scent instead of a fox, are still allowed and have continued across Britain in winter months.

Next week’s vote will be on a technicality which would make the law the same across England, Wales and Scotland and is not about lifting the overall ban.

In England and Wales, a farmer can currently only use two dogs to “flush out” a fox, or remove it from its hole so it can be shot, while in Scotland, farmers can use an unlimited number of dogs.

Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports campaign group, said the vote was “nothing but sneaking hunting in through the back door”.

“By amending the Hunting Act like this, the government are deliberately and cynically making it easier for hunts to chase and kill foxes, and harder for them to be convicted when they break the law,” he added.

The Countryside Alliance, a pressure group in favour of hunting, stressed the move would mean that traditional hunting remains illegal.

Following media reports of the vote, Cameron’s spokeswoman would only confirm that it would come before parliament’s summer recess on July 21.

Asked how the prime minister would vote, she said Cameron had “made clear several times that he believes in the freedom to hunt.”

She added that the government stands by its commitment to repeal the ban on hunting eventually.

Brian May blasts David Cameron over support for ‘psychopathic’ fox hunting and badger cull

The Queen guitarist and animal rights campaigner gave the Prime Minister both barrels, calling him ‘the worst kind of Tory’ and saying he has no compassion for animals.

Brian May has launched a passionate attack on David Cameron, who he says has “no compassion for animals whatsoever.”

The Queen guitar legend and animal rights campaigner condemned the Prime Minister’s support for the badger cull and the legalisation of fox hunting.

Speaking exclusively to the Mirror, he said: “It looks like nothing can stand in Cameron’s way. Now he’s got a majority he can plough through with the things he was hesitating on, like fox hunting.

“I think Cameron is a special kind of Tory. The worst kind of Tory. The kind that has no compassion for animals whatsoever.”

He said: “The most appalling thing is that they fought this election on the economy, and now the first thing that comes up is fox hunting.”

Dr May has been vocal on animal rights issues since 2005.

He runs animal rights organisation Save Me, with whom he’s campaigned against blood sports and the badger cull.

Reuters Fox hunt
Dr May says enjoying the suffering of another creature is “psychopathic”

He says that of the dozen or so reasons people give for why fox hunting is necessary, all but one fall down on close inspection.

“The only thing you can honestly say about fox hunting is that people enjoy it,” he said. “People have a sadistic pleasure in seeing an animal ripped apart.

“It’s sadism. To be honest, it’s psychopathic behaviour to enjoy the suffering of another creature.”

He added: “People who have no compassion for animals tend not to have compassion for humans either.”

The Mirror contacted Downing Street for a response to Dr May’s comments, but they had not responded at the time of publication.

He said the one glimmer of hope was that when the bill to repeal the Hunting Act is introduced to the Commons, it will be a free vote.

“I think all votes should be free votes,” he said. “It’s by no means certain he’ll have the full support of his party.”

He said a new petition would be set up in the coming days on the government’s website against the repeal.

Should Britain bring back fox hunting?

Dr May was a key campaigner against the badger cull, which was piloted by former environment secretary Owen Patterson, and looks set to continue under his successor Liz Truss.

The 2013 pilot badger culls in Gloucester and Somerset were described as “ineffective” at stemming the spread of bovine TB and failed the test for humaneness, according to an independent panel of experts put together by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

And yesterday it was revealed that at a time when the government is planning £12bn in cuts to welfare, they are content to spend more than £5,000 per badger killed in the heavily criticised plan.

In February, Liz Truss told the annual conference of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) she would press on with the cull in spite of the criticism

She said: “We will not let up, whatever complaints we get from protesters groups. We are in it for the long haul and we will not walk away.”

Dr May said: “She speaks from the same hymn book as Patterson – which is the same hymn book as Cameron, who it seems has some kind of behind closed doors agreement with the NFU to continue the cull regardless of the evidence.”

NFU Director General Andy Robertson said: “The NFU has always been clear about the need for a badger cull as part of a comprehensive strategy to address the scourge of TB. However, we have not met the Prime Minister and Brian May’s claim of a behind the scenes deal therefore makes him look ridiculous.”

PA A wild badger
‘Obscene waste of tax payers’ money’: The badger cull was resurrected last year

In the run up to the election, Dr May launched Common Decency, a project intended to encourage people to vote for people who would act with decency in the House of Commons.

He admits he’s disappointed in the outcome of the election.

He says he has no plans to abandon the project, but will be changing his methods.

“A lot of the old methods don’t work,” he said. “Even getting a vote in the House of Commons and winning that vote is no guarantee you’ll influence the government.”

But the Queen guitarist played down reports of a rift between him and Prince Charles.

In one of the Prince’s recently revealed “black spider” letters, the Prince describes the anti-badger cull lobby as “intellectually dishonest”.

But the letter was sent a decade ago, before Dr May was vocal on animal rights issues – and crucially, before the independent report declared the badger cull pilot ineffective.

Dr May said: “I imagine Prince Charles’ views could have changed.

“Somebody should ask him.

Brian May is a panelist on tonight’s Question Time tonight on BBC One at 10.45pm.

Also on the panel are Ukip leader Nigel Farage, and Jeremy Hunt, who confirmed last week that a bill to repeal the Hunting Act would be on the government’s agenda for this Parliament.

The Poll is now tied-Please Vote!

Someone from the other side (the anti-animal, anti-nature side) must be encouraging their friends to vote for hunting predators. This morning the poll was tied at 47 to 47.
Please go here and vote for a ban on predator hunting:  (half way down the page, on the right hand column)
A group of wildlife conservationists asked Cape Cod National Seashore officials to ban hunting for meat-eating predators such as coyotes and foxes on the 44,000-acre park.
Do you support the ban or the hunters?
  • Total Votes: 3118
  • Ban hunting for coyotes, foxes and other predators
  • Let hunting for predators continue
  • No opinion
    photo by Jim Robertson

    photo by Jim Robertson

It’s Already Hunt Sab Season in Briton



Northern Ireland says ‘NO’ to fox and stag hunting

29 July 2014

Animal welfare charity, the League Against Cruel Sports, are appealing to the animal loving public of Northern Ireland to support their anti-hunting campaign by attending a rally against fox and stag hunting this Saturday 2nd August, from 2pm at the Stormont Buildings.

Stormont Rally 250The Rally which is being held by Noelle Robinson, Green Party Councillor for Bangor Central in partnership with the charity, will highlight that Northern Ireland is now the only region within the UK that has not introduced a complete ban on fox and stag hunting.

In 2002, the introduction of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act made it illegal to hunt a wild mammal with a pack of hounds in Scotland. In 2004, after 80 years of tireless campaigning by the League, England and Wales followed suit and the Hunting Act was passed. Ten years on, there is currently no hunting legislation that exists  in Northern Ireland and as such hunting foxes and stags with dogs, continues to be legal.

The charity have therefore given this campaign priority status and hope they will be able to ensure that this barbaric practice is also made illegal in Northern Ireland.

Janice Watt, Senior Public Affairs Officer in N.I said: “It is vital that we gain the support of both the N.I public and politicians in order to resign this cruel and blood thirsty sport to the history books where it belongs. It is not acceptable in the modern age for any animal to be chased to exhaustion, and then ripped apart whilst still alive. 

“The public were outraged at the leniency shown to dog fighters convicted this year in our courts – but what is the difference between setting dogs on a domestic pet, and setting dogs on a fox or stag? The answer is none. We are urging people to show their support for this campaign by attending the rally at Stormont on Saturday.”

Official figures released this month  revealed more individuals were prosecuted for hunting with dogs last year in England and Wales (2013), than in any other since the 2004 ban came into force. A total of 341 convictions under the Act, make it the most successful piece of wild animal legislation, with one person on average prosecuted under the Act every week, and over two-thirds of these convicted.