Grantham Against Blood Sports say,
We are very disappointed to read in the news that the Mayor of Grantham Lynda Coutts will be welcoming the Belvoir Hunt into Grantham on Boxing Day 2018. This decision was made after a secret meeting of Grantham councillors, whom had received a private presentation from the Belvoir Hunt. Grantham Against Blood Sports (GABS) were not invited, nor were we offered the same opportunity to present our case. In fact any communications to the Mayor, the Mayor’s office and SKDC in general have been thwarted with various obstructions, misinformation and lies. Which evidently demonstrates the bias towards us and the deeply entrenched support of wildlife criminals, no matter what harm they do.
In December 2017 the Mayor councillor Mike Cook was approached by GABS and asked not to support the Belvoir Hunt on Boxing Day 2017. Our opposition to the invite of the Belvoir Hunts was solely due to the two upcoming court cases in 2018 involving the Belvoir Hunt and its associates. Councillor Cook was open to debate and very nearly stopped the invite to the Belvoir Hunt on Boxing Day 2017. However, after he took legal advice from SKDC he was advised that any upcoming court cases against the Belvoir Hunt employees and associates had to be presumed innocent, until the conclusion of the court cases, which we all agreed was the right thing to do, in the interests of justice. GABS did peacefully protest on Boxing Day 2017 and councillor Mike Cook kept his promise to keep the issue on the agenda with the Mayor in waiting councillor Lynda Coutts.
The Belvoir Hunt employees and associates who had been previously charged were subsequently convicted of grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, theft, criminal damage and an animal welfare offence. There was also no denial of foxes being killed by the hunt at Scalford Care Home and at Melton Country Park, although police investigations were dropped. The charge for an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 related to a Buckminster Estate gamekeeper Nigel Smith, who was found to be keeping a fox captive in an outbuilding on the Buckminster estate in December 2015. We assume this was for the purpose of releasing the fox for the Belvoir Hunt the following day, the day of the hunt. Nigel Smith did not cooperate with the police investigation and refused to answer PC Flint’s questions. This particular offence was exposed in an undercover operation by the League Against Cruel Sports investigators, Daryl Cunnington and Roger Swaine. Buckminster gamekeeper Nigel Smith was found guilty of this offence in March 2018 and fined and ordered to pay costs of £1,640 he was also disqualified from keeping foxes or being involved in it, for five years.
In March 2016 those same two investigators (Darryl Cunnington and Roger Swaine) were both brutally assaulted and robbed in an unprovoked attack whilst monitoring the Belvoir Hunt in Leicestershire. This attack left Darryl Cunningham, a former policeman with broken neck vertebrae in three places.
Both Darryl and Roger were attacked by six men, many of them wearing balaclavas. Only two of the six men were arrested, George Grant, the (former) Belvoir Hunt terrierman and his son Thomas Grant. George & Thomas Grant refused to cooperate with the police investigation and they refused to name their accomplices, who are still at large and whom Leicester Police hold an open investigation on.
In April 2018 both George and Thomas Grant were convicted at Leicester Crown Court of grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, theft of a video camera and criminal damage. Their sentencing was adjourned until June 2018 and both men received 18 months suspended prison sentences, 200 hours unpaid work and £500 victim surcharge.
On 20th of June 2018 Grantham Against Blood Sports met the new Mayor Lynda Coutts in the Mayors parlour. We spoke for over an hour about many things including the recent animal cruelty conviction of the Buckminster Estate gamekeeper and the conviction of the Belvoir Hunt employee and his son. We also spoke about the ongoing investigation of the fox which was illegally hunted killed by the Belvoir Hunt in Melton Country Park in February 2018. We found the meeting difficult, as Lynda Coutts didn’t appear to understand that hunting foxes with hounds had been banned since the passing of the Hunting Act 2004.
Mayor Lynda Coutts suggested in this meeting that on Boxing Day the hounds should be muzzled, as she was worried about them biting a child. This comment she later withdrew and backtracked on, as not her own, when she announced to the Grantham Journal on the 20th of July that the Belvoir Hunt were welcome to parade themselves on Boxing Day 2018, regardless of the recent convictions.
Let it also be known that the Mayor Lynda Coutts was invited to judge the Duke of Rutland Hounds on Wednesday 27th of June 2018. The invitation was accepted and councillor Ray Wootton stepped in for councillor Coutts. Councillor Ray Wooten proudly displayed his invitation on his Twitter feed, which he has (strangely) since removed.
After the secret meeting of the Grantham Charter of Trustees and councillors last week in debate of the Boxing Day invitation, councillor Ray Wooten was the first to proudly and publicly announce on his Twitter feed that the Belvoir Hunt would indeed be supported and invited into Grantham on Boxing Day 2018. His announcement was before any official statement had been released by the Mayor’s office.
In another statement Councillor Ian Selby stated he was happy for the hunt to come to Grantham ‘as long as nothing illegal was taking place’. He also said he does not like cruelty, but it’s a popular event and a lot of the public turn out.’ This justification is pathetic. Animal cruelty should not be celebrated, ignored or swept under the carpet because of a ‘popular event.’
Grantham Against Blood Sports will make another peaceful demonstration on Boxing Day 2018. We will represent the 85% of the British public are opposed to fox hunting, and support maintaining and strengthening the current ban. We ask for peaceful likeminded people to join us outside the Guildhall in Grantham on Boxing Day 2018.
Please seek the truth and decide yourself if the Belvoir Hunt and its associates deserve to be welcomed into Grantham by the Mayor on Boxing Day 2018.
Roger Swaine, field investigator for League Against Cruel Sports stated ‘I’m disappointed by Mayor Coutts’ support for the Belvoir Hunt Ltd. That a meeting was held in secret with no public knowledge shows complete contempt of democracy by the current council in my opinion. I was a victim of a cowardly attack by supporters of this hunt, outnumbered 3:1. I watched my friend and colleague stretchered away, not knowing if he’d ever walk again.
Since the attack the Hunt has never publicly condemned the violent attack orchestrated by its employee, they have not cooperated with the police investigation and even more disturbingly Lady Sarah McCorquodale – senior huntmaster – vouched for him in open court.
What law-abiding company would tolerate such violence from its employees during a day’s business? Supporting the Belvoir Hunt and its access to Grantham on Boxing Day is, in my view, tacit approval of criminal and thuggish behaviour by the council. Such behaviour should never be tolerated in a civilised society.’