Paul Oliver, ex-MFH and huntsman of the South Herfordshire Foxhounds has been convicted of animal cruelty offenses. He provided live fox cubs to his hounds to be killed in kennels. The once-respected hunt, established in England 150 years ago, is now disbanded.
The evidence was damning. Footage was shown in court taken by hidden cameras covertly put in place by anti-bloodsport activists.
Oliver was given a sixteen-week suspended jail sentence, and kennelman Hannah Rose received a twelve-week suspended sentence. Anti-bloodsport activists across Britain are up-in-arms over the court’s leniency. On this count, even the pro-hunting community agrees.
Just as British foxhunters, itching to reverse the despised Hunting Act of 2005, are trying to convince their fellow citizens that foxhunters are best capable of policing themselves, one of their own has to go and do the unconscionable. In so doing, Oliver has struck a dagger in the heart of foxhunting all over the world—not just England.
“That video will haunt us forever,” said Tim Easby, executive director of the MFHA in Britain.
The reaction of British sporting institutions have been appropriate. The hunt was cast out—disbanded—as was Oliver. He was described in one article to be a member of the Western Hunt in UK, as well. I asked Easby if he would be allowed to hunt at any registered hunt again.
“He wouldn’t dare,” was Easby’s terse reply.
So, ok. Unprincipled people on both sides—the right side or the wrong side—of any issue can do damage to their own cause. But I couldn’t help but wonder why the pro-hunting faction wasn’t more candidly and prominently in the news as Oliver’s trial ended and the sentence was announced. Why didn’t they tell the public how the miscreant was punished by fellow foxhunters?
The world press over the course of a month in May and June 2019 was full of articles from the BBC News, the Independent, Horse and Hound Magazine, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, London Examiner, Evening Standard, Metro, and county and local publications. They covered first the verdict, the run-up to the sentencing, and the sentencing itself. But among all the reports, I saw no word from the pro-hunting side to the effect that such practices, while rare and misguided, are condemned and punished by organized foxhunting itself…that the hunt has been disbanded and cast out, and that Paul Oliver will never again set foot among the field of any registered hunt.
One can well understand how any attempt by the foxhunting constituency to counter the bitter taste in the public’s collective mouth could simply prolong the agony, and such, in fact, was the most likely reason for the lack of communication by the sporting institutions. But I have to wonder if, during the month’s worth of mega-coverage by the press, the absence of sound from foxhunters actually spoke louder than no sound at all.
Posted July 8, 2019