Chris Woodward Wynnstay Hunt

GUILTY: Huntsman Chris Woodward in court yet again

Chris Woodward, ex-huntsman for the Wynnstay Hunt, has pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett near Malpas, north Wales.

The guilty plea comes after the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) released footage back in February 2023, showing two men escaping on a quad bike after they were confronted by sabs. The men were named as Woodward and whipper-in Charlie Young.

The Times published a longer version of the video, and said:

“The time and date stamped video, which shows the GPS location, shows the active badger setts undisturbed at 12.53pm on February 3, before two men filled them in at 1.14pm.”

The men were blocking the sett so that foxes couldn’t run into them to escape being hunted.

Badgers are their setts (setts include entrances, tunnels, and underground chambers) are protected in law by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

The HSA reported that Woodward was fined a paltry £500 fine, plus £200 victim surcharge and £85 costs, for blocking the badger sett. He pleaded not guilty to additional charges under the Hunting Act, and will stand trial in October.


Woodward was in court just one month ago, where he pleaded guilty to causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress, an offence under the Public Order Act. The hunter rode his horse at a Cheshire Monitors volunteer during a fox hunting meet on 7 January 2023.

That day, Woodward galloped towards the monitor on his horse, almost knocking the man to the ground. At the same time he screamed:

“F*ck off now! That’s my f*cking job. If you do that again I’ll f*cking kill you! Do you hear? You leave them alone; that’s my responsibility!”

Protect the Wild spoke to Cheshire Monitors after that incident, who said:

“Chris Woodward went insane and rode at our runner, screaming at him that if he didn’t stop commanding the hounds to stop chasing foxes he would kill him! Earlier in the day the hounds had chased a fox into a partially blocked badger sett – one of several found that day – and tried to dig the fox out, but were stopped by some sabs that were out with us that day. Multiple foxes were seen to safety before this incident, and Woodward clearly couldn’t cope with the pressure.”

Prior to this, Woodward had evaded getting a hunting-related criminal record. He appeared in court in December 2022 after video footage showed him riding behind a pack of hounds as they chased a fox, and taking no action to stop them. Woodward was found not guilty of illegal hunting for this incident, but only after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the monitor’s video from the evidence bundle at the last minute. At the same time, Woodward was on trial for another incident of illegal hunting after North Wales Police officers also witnessed Woodward chasing a fox on a different date. But he was found not guilty of this charge, too.

The Wynnstay keeps blocking badger setts

As Cheshire Monitors mentioned in the quote above, this incident isn’t the first time that Wynnstay staff have been caught blocking badger setts. According to the HSA:

“Just three weeks prior to this February incident, the two were also caught on camera blocking the very same sett, showing a pattern of organised crime relating to badger sett interference and intended illegal fox hunting.”

And in October 2022, Jamie Barnes and Ben Davies were convicted for digging out a badger sett the day before the Wynnstay Hunt were planning to meet there. They were ordered to pay more than £1500 in fines. The court was told the hunt had asked Barnes to “get a rogue fox” ahead of its meet.

Heythrop Hunt

Woodward, clearly a liability to the struggling Wynnstay, has now moved onto the Heythrop Hunt. As Protect the Wild previously reported:

“The Heythrop Hunt, too, isn’t without its controversies. In 2008, the Heythrop’s huntsman, Julian Barnfield, was the first person to be charged under the Hunting Act after the law came into force. The CPS dropped the charges after a High Court ruling made a distinction between searching for a mammal and actively hunting it. And in 2013, long before major landowners banned so-called ‘trail hunting’ on their land, the National Trust banned the Heythrop from hunting after Barnfield and Richard Sumner were found guilty under the Hunting Act.”

It is, perhaps, a foolish move on the Heythrop’s part to employ a volatile character such as Woodward. Under his command, it will only be a matter of time before we see reports of the Heythrop interfering with badger setts and deliberately chasing foxes. And we will, no doubt, see Woodward once again losing his temper under the pressure of hunt saboteurs’ watchful eyes.

Featured image of Chris Woodward via Cheshire Monitors