Fitzwilliam Hunt

Another huntsman is guilty of illegal hunting. And this time he admitted to it.

Shaun Parish plead guilty to illegal hunting at Peterborough Magistrates Court on 11 May. He is huntsman for the now three-times convicted Fitzwilliam Hunt.

Police brought charges against Parish after Peterborough Hunt Sabs filmed him hunting a fox near at Stibbington, Peterborough, on 5 March 2022. The sab group published the footage, which shows Parish and whipper-in Jake Whalley following behind the pack of hounds as it chases a fox across a field. Meanwhile, other mounted followers watch on.

The Peterborough Telegraph reported that “there was no information about what happened to the fox”. However, Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs – who were there on the day alongside Peterborough Hunt Sabs – said at the time that:

“The hounds gave chase but the fox ran through Sutton Wood and went to ground once again. This time we were able to directly intervene, sending the hunt packing and guarding the small badger sett where it had sought refuge.”

Parish please guilty to a Section 1 Hunting Act charge. Peterborough Magistrates fined Parish £421 and ordered him to pay £150 in costs as well as a £42 victim surcharge. The Peterborough Telegraph noted that, had the magistrates found Parish guilty, they would have fined him £562. Police had initially charged Whalley too.

Third time not so lucky

In its post celebrating the outcome, Peterborough Hunt Sabs said that Parish decided to plead guilty “before the trial had commenced”. This was a “full admission” that the hunt regularly hunted illegally, it added. And in a press release by the Hunt Saboteurs Association, Peterborough and Beds & Bucks sabs groups jointly said:

“We are obviously hugely pleased with this outcome. The strength of evidence supplied in this case meant that the Fitzwilliam had no defence to offer. The Fitzwilliam are fast becoming one of the most convicted hunts in the country and it’s clear to everybody that they are simply a criminal gang.”

Indeed, the latest conviction is the third that staff at the Fitzwilliam Hunt have faced. In April 2018, footage from Peterborough and Beds & Bucks sab groups led to the conviction of then-Fitzwilliam huntsman George Adams. That illegal hunting conviction related to an incident on New Year’s Day 2016.

And before that, in May 2012, police caught then-hunt terrierman John Bycroft keeping a live vixen in a barrel. Both Bycroft and Jamie Round, who accompanied Bycroft during the incident, were found guilty of Hunting Act and animal welfare offences in a case prosecuted by the RSPCA.

Fox running through a field in evening sunlight

That isn’t the full extent of the Fitzwilliam Hunt’s horrors though, of course. For example, it was a hound from this hunt’s pack that vehicles hit and killed on a dual carriageway in December 2018. The hunt was chasing a fox at the time.

It was also the Fitzwilliam Hunt that spent thousands of pounds on an injunction to stop sabs from holding it accountable. That came just just months after the 2018 conviction. And as Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs said in its post on Parish’s conviction:

“In the previous case the judge advised the hunt to change how they operated or they would be likely to face the courts again. However, the Fitzwilliam instead decided to ignore the advice and undertake an expensive injunction to limit sab interference.

“Their failure is complete.”

Writing on the wall

The Fitzwilliam Hunt operates independently of the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA). As a result, the BHSA will be able to publicly ignore the outcome and pretend it has nothing to do with the organisation.

However, it’s clear at this point that the writing is on the wall for the entire hunting industry. Even Parish could see it, it seems, as he just went ahead and admitted his guilt. But it’s not done until it’s done, and every single hunt in the UK is disbanded.

Please condier donating to Peterborough Hunt Sabs and Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs to help keep the Fitzwilliam Hunt under pressure.