John Thomson, Duke of Buccleuch's Hunt supporter, spits at member of Scottish Borders Hunt Saboteurs

Scottish court convicts Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt supporter of assaulting a hunt saboteur

Jedburgh Sheriff Court convicted a Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt supporter of assaulting a hunt saboteur during a meet in September 2022.

Local paper Border Telegraph reported on 8 July that John Thomson plead guilty to two charges after spitting, shouting, and threatening to kill a member of Scottish Borders Hunt Saboteurs. The incident happened during hunting near Borthwickshiels on 17 September 2022.

Scottish Borders Hunt Saboteurs were, at the time, following the Buccleuch Hunt. Thompson claimed sabs blocked the road and that he escalated the incident after they pointed out his daughter in the back of his vehicle. Video published by the sab group shows, however, that there was plenty of space for his car on the road. Thomson then spat at sabs from his car as he passed them by. As a result, the court handed him a £300 fine and £20 victim surcharge.

Scottish Borders Hunt Saboteurs said that the incident was “not [its] first time subjected to John’s not-so-eloquent tirades of abuse”. It also credited the local police officers for taking the case seriously. The group’s hit report from the day said Thomson was just one of several Buccleugh Hunt supporters that “became VERY agitated”.

Fox running

Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt: first and last trials

The Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt was in the news in January 2022 after the League Against Cruel Sports captured footage of its hounds chasing a fox. The footage never went to trial, though. The Buccleuch’s then-huntsman and whipper-in had previously faced a five-day trial for illegal hunting. The League Against Cruel Sports had covertly filmed the hunt chasing a fox in December 2017 However, the judge found both not guilty of the charges, though he was critical of the legislation at the time.

At present, the Buccleuch Hunt’s current huntsman Myles O’Connor is also facing court for illegal hunting. The court has twice adjourned his case, with the trial currently set for September. It relates to an incident of alleged illegal hunting in December 2021.

The Southern Reporter explained that O’Connor’s trial will be the final one under the Protection of Wild Mammals law that previously restricted hunting in Scotland. In January, the Scottish government approved the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill, which effectively ends hunting outright in the country.

As such, the Buccleuch Hunt will bookend Scotland’s first anti-hunting legislation. Its then-huntsman Trevor Adams was the first to be tried under the Protection of Wild Mammals Act in December 2004. However, the court found him not guilty.

Did you know that spitting at someone can be an assault? For information on what constitutes assault please see our Protectors page: Assault and the Law

Featured image via Scottish Borders Hunt Saboteurs/Facebook

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