NEWS AND COMMENT: According to The Times, a very reliable source, Lord Daresbury is a longstanding friend of the present monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth realms, King Charles III. King Charles and Lord Daresbury go back a long way. When foxhunting was legal in the UK, they rode together on a fox hunt with the Wynnstay Hunt of which Daresbury is the master (leader).
Lord Daresbury is Peter Greenall, fourth Baron Daresbury of Walton. They are long-standing friends of the Royal family and they regularly skied with Charles when he was Prince of Wales. They have holidayed with the Duchess of York.
He is a former brewery heir and businessman. He looked after Charles’s hunting horses before hunting was banned with dogs by the Labour Party at that time.
The alleged crime
Two employees of Daresbury’s hunt are being investigated as they are suspected of filling in badger setts before a hunt. They do this to stop the chased fox going to ground. However, as hunting with dogs is banned in the UK and trail hunting is the substitute, there is no need to fill in badger setts because foxes are not being chased as per the law.
Therefore, if the employees of Lord Daresbury are filling badger setts before the day of the hunt it means that during the hunt, they are going to hunt foxes under the guise of a trail hunt. And we know that this happens a lot in the UK. It is a way for the countryside set to try and get around the Hunting Act which bans foxhunting.
So, they are engaging in criminal behaviour often it seems to me and in fact the police have admitted that it happens often. The two employees concerned were filmed in woodland a 10-minute drive from Lord Daresbury’s country home in North Wales.
Under the law, anyone blocking up or damaging a badger’s sett can face up to 6 months in prison and an unlimited fine.
An ecologists confronted the two men and he said to The Times:
“People are getting fed up with the constant illegal interference and blocking up of badger setts by illegal foxhunts and something had to be done. That’s why a plan was hatched to catch the suspects in the act of badger sett interference.”
They made a video of the alleged illegal act which is time and date stamped according to police requirements in order to make sure that the evidence is solid. It shows active badger setts undisturbed at 12:53 PM on February 3 and then shortly afterwards it shows the setts filled in.
And the video shows two men running away from the scene after they were confronted. They jumped on a quad bike while hiding their faces. They sped off across fields. It appears that they’ve been reported to the police for allegedly interfering with the setts.
The witness said:
“This was a Friday and they would be out hunting that area on Saturday. You wouldn’t be filling in badger sets if you are trail hunting. You only have to do that to prevent a fleeing fox from going to ground.”
North Wales police are investigating the matter. The ecologist said that badger sets in the area were being blocked up more than once a month and it appears to take place a day before “trail hunting” in which dogs follow a scented trail but there’s no fox involved.
The story indicates that badgers are a victim of foxhunting as well as the foxes when it is carried out legally. In severe cases badgers can suffocate if they are buried in their dens when blocked up because they can’t dig themselves out. And also, young badger cubs are born underground during winter. They emerge in April. If the set is covered up there’s no air flow into it and they can suffocate.
The Countryside Alliance who represent foxhunters and other countryside activities, denied any illegal activity and said: “The alliance has always been very clear that it promotes and supports legal hunting activity and campaigns for the legitimate use of dogs in wildlife management.”