Ministry of Defence Police issued an official warning to two members of Royal Artillery Hunt. It comes after monitors captured footage of hounds chasing deer across Salisbury Plain. However, the video also raises questions about why stronger action wasn’t taken.
Ministry of Defence (MOD) Police issued an official warning to Charles Carter, huntsman for the Royal Artillery Hunt, after he violated a bye-law by not keeping a pack of hounds under control. The warning comes after an incident on 22 October 2022, when Salisbury Plain Monitors filmed Carter taking no action as the Royal Artillery Hunt hounds pursued two deer across a field.
The footage shows two riders up with the pack as they chased the deer. The monitor group identified the second person as Guy Loader, the hunt’s whipper-in.
Protect the Wild has seen an email sent by MOD Police to Salisbury Plain Monitors, and it explained that:
“The 2 suspects in the Offence namely Charles CARTER and Guy LOADER have been found to have breached the Salisbury Plain Byelaws 1981, Section 3 (2) (d)-fail to keep under control any dog or animal.
“In line with CPS guidance, in relation to Byelaw offences, both suspects have been issued with an Official Warning Off from MOD Land [sic], issued in accordance with Salisbury Plain Military Byelaws 1981 Section 4 paragraphs 1 and 2.”
Meanwhile, the monitor group told Protect the Wild that the videos clearly show:
“the blatant chasing of the deer by the pack of hounds. We believe the deer survived, they did cross a public highway – it was good luck that no cars were using it at the time.”
Out of control
Salisbury Plain Monitors’ statement highlights questions over the MOD Police’s response. The video clearly shows a pack of hounds pursuing the deer as Carter and Loader follow, and the pair not taking action to prevent the chase.
Section 1 Hunting Act convictions require evidence that the suspects intended to hunt a wild mammal. Something like blowing the horn to encourage the hounds’ pursuit would provide the clearest form of intent. However, as the Crown Prosecution Service’s Hunting Act guidance states, intent can also take the form of:
“the defendants deliberately [allowing] the dogs to be out of control when they realised that they were on the scent of a wild mammal.”
Carter and Loader’s actions don’t appear to fall under the remit of ‘recklessness’, a clause for which many anti-hunting organisations including Protect the Wild are demanding. They are riding alongside the hounds at the time of the pursuit, rather then allowing them to run out of sight. As a result, the description that they “deliberately allowed the dogs to be out of control” is far more fitting. And it’s also grounds for prosecution. However, MOD Police chose to issue a warning for breaking a bye-law instead.
Protect the Wild approached MOD Police about this. However, it said:
“We do not comment on individual cases but organisations wishing to trail or drag hunt on Defence land must hold an MOD issued licence and must fully comply with the law.
“It would be a matter for the police to consider any suspected illegal activity.”
The real intimidators
The MOD is one of the few major public landowners to continue permitting hunting on its land. As a result, anti-hunting activists are engaging in a campaign to push the MOD in the direction of other organisations such as the National Trust that have dropped hunts from their midst. And the Royal Artillery Hunt are at the centre of this campaign.
On 3 February, Surrey Hunt Sabs said MOD Police had cautioned the hunt’s ‘trail layer’ Georgina Price after she rode her horse at one of its members. Just a few days earlier, on 28 February, Surrey Hunt Monitors shared a letter and cheque for £30 sent by Carter. It came after MOD Police enforced a Community Resolution Order against the huntsman after he damaged a car belonging to one of the group’s members. Carter previously narrowly avoided court in November 2022 after Salisbury Plain Monitors filmed him chasing a fox at Larkhill, Wiltshire. MOD Police missed filing papers for the case by a single day, owing to a bank holiday, and as a result the case wasn’t able to proceed. Many more cases of Carter and the Royal Artillery Hunt running roughshod are laid out by the Hunt Saboteurs Association in a November 2022 post.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace waded into the conversation in December 2022 after he ended lines of communication between the MOD and League Against Cruel Sports over hunting on Salisbury Plain. Wallace claimed the move resulted from the “behaviour of protesters” that was “intimidating to other users” of the area. However, the move coincided with pressure from ITV News journalist Rupert Evelyn over the release of internal Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) communication through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents revealed increasing frustration by the ministry over the behaviour of the Royal Artillery Hunt.
In light of all these cases, as well as Carter and Loader’s latest warning, it’s increasingly clear that it is the Royal Artillery Hunt that are the real intimidators on Salisbury Plain. As a result, we must demand that the MOD and DIO reconsiders their positions on continuing to licence these wildlife abusers.
Consider supporting Salisbury Plain Hunt Sabs, who work closely with the monitor group, via Paypal.
Sign Protect the Wild’s letter to the MOD-DIO asking it to stop licensing wildlife hunts.
Featured image via Salisbury Plain Monitors.