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SumUp denies hunts card payment services

It’s been one blow after another for fox hunters these past couple of years. Struggling to stay afloat, a number of hunts have shut down or amalgamated. And now they have been hit with yet another financial woe: they have been banned from taking card payments at their fundraising events. This is a major victory for those keen to see hunts collapse for good.

‘Restricted businesses’

The Telegraph has reported that:

“A number of hunts have had their machines switched off during fundraising events, potentially losing thousands of pounds.”

Card reader provider SumUp lists ‘Hunting clubs/activities’ under its ‘restricted businesses’ list, and because of this took action to prevent transactions.

The right-wing paper stated:

“The Oakley Hunt was among those to discover an issue when its card machine was cut off half way through their point-to-point meeting in Northamptonshire in March. It is the biggest event in their calendar and the shutdown could have cost them thousands.

When the hunt questioned the decision, SumUp said “after a thorough review of your profile we will not be able to provide you with our services”.”

Outrage and lies

The Telegraph is, of course, outraged by SumUp’s decision, arguing that the banking institution is discriminating against rural communities. As is the Countryside Alliance’s Polly Portwin, who was eager to parrot her usual nonsense about hunts conducting lawful activity. She complained:

“It is disgraceful that members of rural communities and those who take part in a lawful activity can be discriminated against in this way and effectively treated as criminals.”

This narrative, dressing murderous hunters up as harmless rural citizens, is nothing new for the Countryside Alliance. Portwin is shameless when she argues that hunts are law-abiding. She, along with her Telegraph cronies, are attempting to manufacture a different truth, and she hopes the public will buy it.

But, of course, there’s ample evidence to show that hunts are, indeed criminals, and that they do break the law time and time again.

Prolific

Protect the Wild has reported on many cases where hunts have been caught on camera killing foxes, deer and hare. During the hunting season, it’s a given that hunts will be breaking the law week in, week out. Even senior police officer Matt Longman, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Fox Hunting Crime, has described illegal hunting as “prolific”.

Covering his back, Longman was careful to say that “not all hunts” are illegally hunting (probably because not all hunts can be monitored by hunt saboteurs and monitors). He said:

“If I look at the intelligence we get, the footage circulated online and sent to forces, the number of successful prosecutions but also the number of unsuccessful ones which still reach the courtroom, it tells me there is a significant criminal hunting scene,” he said. “I am not saying it’s all hunts, but it is common.”

There have been a few notable incidents which have made national headlines over the past couple of years, showing the world just how much hunts ignore the Hunting Act. They highlight how hunt staff think they’re above the law. Perhaps the biggest revelation was the high-profile conviction of Mark Hankinson, former Director of the Hunting Office. He was found guilty in October 2021 after he was caught on film encouraging fellow hunters to break the law. In one video, Hankinson said that trail hunting was used as a smokescreen “to portray to the people watching that you’re going about legitimate business”.  Major landowners finally prevented hunters from using their land as a result. Hankinson’s conviction was, eventually, overturned on appeal, but the damage was done.

Since then, different cases of hunters being caught on camera have made national news headlines. In February 2023, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA) was forced to permanently expel the Avon Vale Hunt. The body had previously suspended the hunt after gruesome footage showed hunt members digging out two foxes. In March 2023, the BHSA was forced to take action yet again. It suspended the Cotswold Hunt after a fox was bundled into a bag and buried alive. Harrowing footage was shown on Channel 4 News.

 

Two members of Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch hold up a fox who'd been found in a bag inside an artificial earth during a meet of the Cotswold Hunt

 

On top of these high-profile incidents, a number of hunters have found themselves in court recently, charged under the Hunting Act. Because the Act has a number of pro-hunt loopholes, many have been found not guilty, despite video evidence showing them hunting. But an increasing number of hunt staff are being found guilty (see here, here or here, for example).

Their punishments are only ever paltry fines, but they are, at least, concrete examples of why the Hunting Act needs scrapping, and a new Hunting of Mammals Bill needs to be brought into law.

Blood lust

Of course, the public isn’t buying Portwin and the Telegraph’s nonsense that hunt members are upstanding citizens, unfairly scapegoated in a world that wants to stamp out poor old rural ‘tradition’. We see hunt staff for what they really are: criminals who will break the law to get their fill of blood lust.

SumUp’s decision not to allow hunts to take payments must be seen as a massive victory for those who want to see hunting stamped out for good. After all, without funds, hunts simply can’t exist.