Protesters descend on fox hunting supporter Jeremy Clarkson

TV ‘personality’ and farmer Jeremy Clarkson has never hidden his contempt for Britain’s wildlife. After letting one of England’s most criminal hunts chase foxes and block badger setts on his land, protesters paid a visit to his company.

Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs, Gloucestershire Badger Office, Cotswold Hunt Sabs, Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch, Gloucestershire Badger Group and Action Against Foxhunting all protested at Clarkson’s Hawkstone Brewery and gave a letter to the brewery’s manager to pass on to Clarkson. 

Three Counties Sabs reported:

“The letter calls on Clarkson to stop allowing fox hunting to take place on his land, to stop badger setts being tampered with on the land, and to withdraw from the badger cull.”

Blocked badger setts

Clarkson is well-known for his support of hunting, with Berkshire Sabs previously stating that:

“Jeremy is a keen supporter of hare and fox hunts and proudly hosts meets, and allows the hunt on his land.”

Indeed, the farmer continues to provide the Heythrop Hunt with land to hunt on, and his brewery has even sponsored a horse racing event raising money for the hunt. On 25 January 2024, Three Counties Sabs monitored the Heythrop on Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm land. The group reported:

“A sab made her way into the land later in order to check known badger setts, and found that setts were hard-blocked with Cotswold stone. A few metres from sett entrances we already knew about, was a huge sett, very active. The entrances were also hard-blocked, many with Cotswold stone, but spade marks were also present. One entrance, difficult for our sab to get to through all the brambles, had been missed, and it was clear that the fox must have escaped down this hole. Hound prints and scratch marks were all over the sett and surroundings, the fox must have run everywhere looking for somewhere to escape into.”

Under the Protection of Badgers Act, it is illegal to block a badger sett. It is, of course, illegal to hunt a fox, too, but this never seems to stop the Heythrop Hunt. In 2012, the hunt was convicted as a corporate body under the Hunting Act. And its huntsman, Chris Woodward, who was employed for the 2023-24 season, has appeared in court four times in the past year. In December 2023, he was convicted under the Hunting Act after Cheshire Borderlands Monitors filmed the Wynnstay Hunt’s hounds – where Woodward previously worked – chasing a fox. Clarkson is knowingly letting a criminal hunt with a criminal huntsman – who was convicted just four months ago – terrorise wildlife on his property.

Land owner complicity

The sabs continued:

“Clarkson may not have been aware of the illegal hunting on his land, or of the blocked badger setts (though he likes to pretend he was accused personally in order to attract media attention for himself) but he is certainly complicit in allowing the hunt to use his land.”

Clarkson should perhaps be careful; after all, under section 3 of the Hunting Act, land owners can be prosecuted for packs hunting on their land. Under Section 3:

“A person commits an offence if he knowingly permits land which belongs to him to be entered or used in the course of the commission of an offence under Section 1 [hunting a wild mammal with dogs].”

Badger killer

Protect the Wild has already written plenty about Clarkson’s hatred of badgers, which he calls “ghastly”. He has even lamented on his TV show that it’s illegal to kill them and fill their holes. He knows full well, then, that tampering with a badger sett is a crime. As someone with a large following, he needs to follow hunt saboteurs’ advice and stop allowing hunting on his land.

But such is Clarkson’s disgust for England’s wildlife that we won’t hold our breaths that he will take any action against the Heythrop Hunt. After all, when the police paid him a visit to question him about the blocking of badger holes on his land, his reply to them was, “I’ve shot all the badgers on the farm so why would I want to fill in their setts?”

In the meantime, Three Counties Sabs has been keeping a close eye on Clarkson and his badgers, and the group has been monitoring the sett with cameras. The sabs said:

“Cameras were put up at the setts…so that we could prove that they are active (particularly important since Clarkson likes to put it out there that he has shot all the badgers on his land and therefore states that we must be lying about the setts). Watch this space for more…”

Change the law

If England had stricter laws around hunting with dogs, we would see the Heythrop Hunt prosecuted for illegal hunting, and we would see Clarkson himself prosecuted for complicity as a land owner. But the Hunting Act was devised with so many loopholes that it is failing wildlife in every way. Scotland has recently brought in stricter legislation, called the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act, and we recently have seen the first hunter charged under this new law.

Protect the Wild is campaigning for England and Wales’ Hunting Act to be abolished and replaced with new, watertight legislation where hunters won’t get away with chasing foxes and other wildlife, and where their land owner friends will be held accountable for hosting hunts. Our proposed Hunting of Mammals Bill would close all loopholes, such as trail hunting. It would ensure that all hunters, and hunts themselves, can be prosecuted for purposefully  – or recklessly – pursuing a wild animal with dogs. There would also be a provision for the prosecution of landowners if they knowingly permit trail hunting or real hunting on their land, or if they own a dog that has been used by hunters.

With the Labour Party set to get into power in the next General Election, there is fresh optimism that hunting with dogs will, finally, be consigned to history – at least under law. To sign our petition calling for a proper hunting ban through the implementation of the Hunting of Mammals Bill, click here. Let Labour know that there is no place in modern society for hunting with dogs. Almost 110,000 people have already signed the petition. Help us to reach 150,000!