Royal Artillery Hunt

MoD silent despite 23000 emails urging hunting ban

Fox hunting has suffered a number of major blows over the past few years. Major landowners such as the National Trust have banned hunting from taking place on their land. But one of the UK’s biggest landowners, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is still refusing to ban the disgusting blood sport. Protect the Wild wants to know: is the MoD just looking after its own?

The MoD is one of the largest land owners in the UK. According to the government:

On 1 April 2023, the total UK land holdings for the MoD was 343,500 hectares (1.4% of the total UK land mass).

The MoD is also very secretive about its land. As any rambler or birdwatcher will know, much of the land is fenced off with ‘keep out’ signs, while MoD territory is coloured with red stripes on OS maps. The fact that the land is largely out of bounds to the public is, of course, very convenient for hunts who want to illegally kill foxes and other mammals.

Contravening the Hunting Act

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is an operating arm of the MoD, and is responsible for the MoD’s estate. It grants trail hunting licences on Salisbury Plain to the Royal Artillery Hunt (RAH) and the Tedworth Hunt, which chase foxes, and the Wiltshire and Infantry Beagles, which chase hares.

For years, hunt monitors and saboteurs have been asking the DIO to stop issuing hunting licences. Protect the Wild, too, is running a campaign, urging the DIO to ban hunting on MoD land. So far, more than 23,000 people have signed a petition to the DIO.

In May 2023, MP James Cartlidge, who works as a defence minister for the MoD, sent us a letter, saying:

“I can advise that trail and drag hunting are legal activities authorised by the Hunting Act 2004. Until the Government amends the legislation to disallow these types of hunting, they will continue to be conducted on the Government estate subject to the provisions of the Act…

Whilst I understand the concerns of raised by your members, I can confirm that the terms of the MoD licence are clear, that only trail hunting and drag hunting carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Act are permitted; anything else, including the hunting of foxes with dogs would be a breach of licence but, more importantly, contravene the Hunting Act 2004. Licences are not issued for any activities that would contravene the hunting Act…”

But as we will cover later, there is plenty of evidence to show that the Royal Artillery Hunt contravenes the Hunting Act.


A fox runs from Charles Carter of the Royal Artillery Hunt.
A fox runs from Charles Carter of the Royal Artillery Hunt, via Salisbury Plain Monitors.

Looking after their own

It’s unsurprising that the MoD refuses to ban hunting on its land. The Royal Artillery Hunt, founded by military officers, describes itself as “the only remaining military hunt in the UK”. The hunt is named after the army’s Royal Artillery regiment, which has been involved in almost every battle and operation the army has fought in its 300-year history. The RAH’s kennels are housed on MoD land, and the defence department has recently spent £121,000 on refurbishing them.

If they were to ban hunting, ministers of the MoD would be seen as killjoys, stopping their military pals from getting their sick kicks. After all, the MoD is the headquarters of the armed forces, while a number of positions in the MoD are taken up by those who are ex-military (including MP James Heappey, who serves in the MoD as Minister of State for the Armed Forces, and who also had a career in the military, rising to the ranks of Major).

The current (but soon-to-be outgoing) defence minister Ben Wallace has overall responsibility for the MoD. He served as a military officer in the Scots Guards for most of the 90s. Back in 2002, Wallace made his point on fox hunting clear in the Scottish parliament when he said:

This debate is not only about welfare issues; it is about freedoms. I am here to defend the right of people to hunt foxes.

As Protect the Wild previously reported, Wallace is complicit in attempting to hide the activities of the Royal Artillery Hunt. In December 2022 he terminated a memorandum of understanding between the MoD and the League Against Cruel Sports, which should have informed the anti-hunting organisation of the whereabouts of hunts. Wallace cited the behaviour of protesters, as well as their dress code, as the reason to withdraw the memorandum of understanding. His timing in terminating the memorandum was coincidental to say the least, coming just after RAH huntsman Charles Carter escaped prosecution for illegal hunting. Monitors had caught and filmed Carter’s pack hunting a fox on MoD land.

The RAH lists a number of people as its hunt masters, including MoD employee Major David Puckey, who rides with the hunt in World War One tack. Puckey was filmed on camera in 2021, shouting misogynistic abuse at a Salisbury Plain Monitor. He yelled at her, “Shut up, you stupid old woman! Move your car!” The monitor was blocking the road to prevent an accident while hounds ran loose after chasing two deer.


Major David Puckey
Major David Puckey. Photo via Salisbury Plain Monitors


Another notorious man who rides with the RAH is Private Jason Bell. On 31 October 2021, Reading Hunt Saboteurs were sabbing the RAH, and were at the receiving end of Bell’s rage. The sabs reported:

“upon realising that sabs have now arrived and that their opening meet would be monitored, a regular supporter of the hunt, Jason Bell, attempts to get in the face of a sab. As the sab walks away, Jason grabs him from behind and throws him backwards. Our sources tell us that Jason is a serving soldier at the The Rifles, quoted by his colleagues we spoke to as being “a wet wipe” and “buffoon”. The Ministry of Defence insists that soldiers meet very specific values and standards, including acting lawfully and with integrity at all times as a representative of the British Army. Clearly, Jason did not get the memo or we doubt he would be out illegally hunting and attacking civilians on his weekends….”

Reading Sabs continued:

“From that moment on, Jason and his buddies subjected sabs to a day of abuse, as they attempted to stop us from documenting and preventing the illegal fox hunt that they had been looking forward to.”

And in March 2022, Wiltshire Hunt Sabs reported that Bell:

“decided to scream and shout at sabs whilst attempting to hit them out of the window, and then reverses his car at speed towards sabs swearing and shouting,all of this time with 2 young children in the back.”

Protect the Wild spoke to Salisbury Plain Monitors, who told us about various other links the RAH has to the military. The monitors said that disgraced Tory councillor Jonathon Seed rode with the RAH in the 2022-23 season. Seed is an ex-army major who has a number of current links with the RAH. He was also the hunt’s master for eight years.

Illegal hunting on MoD land

Despite the MoD preventing the public from much of its land, hunt saboteurs and monitors do a good job on Salisbury Plain, catching the Royal Artillery Hunt illegally chasing foxes and other wildlife. As Protect the Wild has previously reported, the hunt has been caught on camera numerous times. Despite this, the MoD continues to licence the Royal Artillery Hunt to use its land, seemingly not giving a damn that the law is being blatantly broken.

As mentioned above, huntsman Charles Carter was almost prosecuted for illegal hunting when footage clearly showed him encouraging the hounds to chase a fox. The charges were – conveniently for the hunt – dropped because the Ministry of Defence Police didn’t file the correct papers in time. The court case would have been the first of its kind: the only time that a hunt member would have been prosecuted for illegal hunting on MoD land.

In March 2023, the MoD police issued Carter and a second man, former whipper-in Guy Loader, an official warning for breaching a bye-law: failing to keep an animal under control. This came after Salisbury Plain Monitors caught and filmed hounds chasing deer across Salisbury Plain. Neither Carter or Loader took any action to prevent the chase. Salisbury Plain Monitors told Protect the Wild:

“Two deer were chased over a considerable distance by the pack of hounds and riders, including over a public road, in an area frequented by members of the public for dog walking and recreational use. Thank goodness no cars were passing at this time, or this could have caused a serious car accident. Whilst our belief is that this contravened the Hunting Act, this is a landmark for the hunt being held accountable for out of control dogs. This was not an isolated deer hunt. We provided evidence for the first a year prior, where deer were chased over a considerable distance and across a road. The police did not pursue or focus on the prosecution case of illegal hunting.”





Charles Carter
Charles Carter. Photo via Salisbury Plain Monitors

‘Accidental’ kills

On top of all this, the RAH admitted to killing two foxes – one on Christmas Eve and one on Boxing Day in 2021 – although it said that the deaths were purely accidental. In order to hunt on MoD land, the RAH must report any ‘accidental’ kills to the DIO within 48 hours, and complete an ‘accidental mammal kill form’. The form submitted for the Christmas Eve murder states:

“the huntsman got off his horse to relieve himself. His wife held the huntsman’s horse and during the intervening period, with the huntsman unable to action as required, the hounds located a fox in the bramble and killed it. The carcass was left in a bramble patch, no larger than 10m squared.”

Salisbury Plain Monitors told Protect the Wild:

“We arrived just as the hunt rode off. The leg found first was still warm, pieces of flesh were strewn over a wide area and the rest of the body stuffed into the undergrowth.  She was laid to rest at the Save Me Trust sanctuary and Brian May named her Holly because she was brutally killed on Christmas Eve.”



The RAH regularly uses violence and intimidation to try to prevent monitors and saboteurs from watching them. In December 2022, Carter ran down two Moonrakers hunt saboteurs with his car. The video was posted on Twitter shortly after the incident happened, and shows Carter deliberately turning his car around to drive into the sabs. One person can be seen laying on the ground as Carter drives away.

Before this, Carter caused damage to a Surrey Monitors’ car on 23 November 2022. The MoD Police issued Carter with a Community Resolution Order, and Carter was forced to pay out a paltry £30 for damages to the vehicle.

It will probably come as no surprise that Carter isn’t the only hunter who uses intimidation to scare off monitors and sabs. In February 2023, Georgie Price, whose role is trail layer for the hunt, was issued with a police caution for abusive behaviour towards a Surrey Hunt Saboteur on 5 November 2022.

The police issued hunt supporter Hayden Gover a caution, too, in 2022, after theft and damage to a Surrey Hunt Sab’s property on Boxing Day 2021.

Another hunt supporter, Lindsay Harris, who was in possession of a red card (meaning that he could drive his vehicle to areas out of bounds to the public), was issued a Fixed Penalty Notice for driving without undue care or attention, after driving at another driver’s car door.

There are ample other examples of the RAH killing foxes, a badger, and admitting to killing a hare, too. And hunt monitors have countless more videos and photos of the hunt using intimidation tactics and blocking public rights of way to try to prevent monitors from seeing them hunting.

All is not lost

Having read all this, you might think that we’re fighting a losing battle, campaigning for the DIO to stop issuing hunting licences on MoD land. But an FOI request by Salisbury Plain Monitors shows that the DIO itself has been getting increasingly frustrated with the RAH.

Emails show that staff at the DIO have reported the hunt for reserving use of the Salisbury Plain Training Area for themselves, but not using the land. The hunt has been using their bookings as a decoy, presumably to trick League Against Cruel Sports monitors – who until recently were notified of where the hunt would be – into going to the wrong location. A staff member emailed:

“I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the Hunt… Any other unit would be banned for this behaviour.”

And so it is important to keep up the campaign and urge the DIO to prevent the RAH and others from hunting on MoD land. If the evidence of blatant illegality isn’t important to the DIO, then maybe increasing internal frustration with the RAH will be what leads to a rethink about issuing licences.

Salisbury Plain Monitors told Protect the Wild:

“As land-owners and issuers of the ‘trail’ hunting licence, the DIO have accountability to prove credibility through transparency and appropriate action. Why has the DIO ignored the evidence? There is either intentional illegal hunting or the hounds are out-of-control, and therefore a serious risk for public safety. If there is truth, transparency and credibility, monitors and saboteurs would not need to attend. We don’t for legitimate non-blood sport hunting such as drag hunts or clean boot.”

They continued:

“Additionally, why is a hunt, for mainly non-military personnel benefiting from tax-payer funding? We know from FOI requests that the £121,000 kennel refurbishment was paid by MoD, while the RAH do not pay any rent or community charge and only started to pay ‘a quarterly amount’, for electricity and water last April after a FOI request the month prior.”

Together, we can keep pressuring the DIO to make the correct choice. Hunt monitors and saboteurs on the ground will continue collecting vital evidence, showing the illegalities of the RAH and other hunts using MoD land.

Meanwhile, you can take action at home.

Please  sign the petition, calling for the DIO to stop issuing trail hunting licences to the RAH and other hunts. More than 23,000 people have signed so far: help us get to 30,000.

  • In the meantime Protect the Wild says that the MoD and the DIO can’t stay silent on this issue for another season of crime and animal abuse. If they would like to comment on the overwhelming evidence of illegality presented in this article they can contact us here.