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West Midland Hunt Sab receives payout from police who posed as postal workers in dawn raid

A member of West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs has received a “substantial payout” after being targeted by Thames Valley Police (TVP). The sab took a civil case against the police for false imprisonment, assault, trespass and aggravated damages.

TVP was given false information by a member of Warwickshire Beagles, which it was all too ready to believe and act upon.

West Midlands sabs said:

“Edward Law, a joint master of the Warwickshire Beagles, conspired with two members of the Warwickshire Hunt to concoct a story about harassment. Law then made a statement to TVP where he claimed he was being stalked and harassed by two members of West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs and feared violence from them as a result.”

They continued:

“It seems TVP were only too happy to unquestioningly take Law’s statement at face value without any actual evidence against the two saboteurs just a statement from someone who is part of an organised rural crime gang.”

TVP was forced to drop the case against the saboteurs because there was no evidence against them.

Dawn raid

The police posed as postal workers to gain access to saboteurs’ homes and then conducted a dawn raid. They also assaulted a female saboteur. West Midlands Sabs said:

“One member of the TVP rural crime team PC James Gunner assaulted the female saboteur by throwing her to the ground. She was assaulted a second time by PC Grace Shayler and Sgt Ruff. Footage from the officers body worn cameras showed a completely different account to the one they had given where they claimed they had not assaulted her.”

They continued:

“There has been a lot of news coverage recently about the behavior of police officers and misogyny within the police. The fact that a male saboteur who was also arrested at the same time was treated completely differently highlights that officers within TVP Rural Crime Team clearly think that violence against women is acceptable.”

A warning to hunts

The sabs gave a message to hunt staff. They said:

“Having now received a substantial payout from TVP we hope that this sends a message to any local hunts who are considering making false allegations against us; eventually you only end up funding our activities further.”
Indeed, West Midland sabs have been very successful in sabbing the Warwickshire Beagles, which like its fox hunting friends, believes it can ignore the Hunting Act completely. The sabs’ presence has often resulted in the hunt aborting its plans, and when meets have taken place, the sabs have been there to film and document illegalities. For example, at a meet on 5 February 2022, the sabs caught and filmed the Warwickshire Beagles hunting a total of five hares during the course of the day – the police’s brief presence did nothing to stop the hunters.
The sabs also sent out a message to the police:
“To any police force who may think it a good idea to take the word of farmers, land owners and organised crime members at face value with no actual evidence. This is now the fifth time we have successfully sued the police and we are getting pretty good at it.
It is not easy or straightforward to take civil action against the police, the fact we have done so successfully five times shows that some police forces clearly need to look at how they police illegal hunting and those who are doing their job for them.”

Police bias

Although we have seen an increase in police action against hunts since leaked webinars exposed hunting in late 2020, all too often hunts are still getting away with chasing animals with total impunity. And time and time again we have seen how the police have links with hunts (see here, here or here). On top of this, Action Against Fox Hunting’s (AAF) reports have spelled out clearly what sabs already know: that police across the country are biased when it comes to hunting. The animal rights organisation’s Counting the Crimes 2 report shows, among other things, that:
  • Most police, even in rural areas, have received no training whatsoever in relation to illegal hunting.
  • Some officers and some forces are biased towards the hunt and against frontline wildlife guardians (FWGs).
  • There is evidence that, as an organisation, the police are prepared to allow the crime of illegal hunting to go unpunished.
  • Pro hunting groups are satisfied with the way the police respond to huntrelated calls; but anti blood sports groups are not.


As for TVP, AAF stated that the force was “possibly the most disappointing force we have dealt with.” The organisation continued:

TVP are clearly content with the way they respond to hunting incidents. We are not. The Hunting Act is being breached on a massive scale and we expect all police forces to take action.”

The organisation found that TVP routinely ignored calls from frontline wildlife guardians. The force’s rural crime team liaises and partners with the prohunting CLA, as well as gamekeepers, and the National Farmers’ Union, but has shown no interest in liaising with AAF and other anti-hunting groups.

Underhand police tactics won’t deter sabs

TVP isn’t the only police force whose staff have posed as postal workers in order to raid people’s homes. Indeed, the “postman tactic” has been used by police for decades in order to underhandedly trick their way into people’s houses. Recently, Avon and Somerset Police were forced to apologise to a woman when they used the same tactic, then handcuffed her in her bedroom while she was partially undressed. The woman suffered from panic attacks and is traumatised because of the raid. In that instance, none of the police faced disciplinary action.

TVP’s “postman tactic” on the West Midlands Sabs has backfired: after all, the payout has ensured that there’s more money in the pot for saboteurs to continue their vital work on the ground.
But this doesn’t excuse the police force and its obvious bias against hunt saboteurs – and the force now needs to address why hunt saboteurs are needed to do the police’s job in the first place.