may soon be in the sights of hunt saboteurs exploiting health and safety
rules to disrupt the activity
is the fear of pro-field sports campaigners after seven saboteurs were cleared
by a court of disrupting a shoot.
put themselves between the guns and the birds at an organised shoot in November
2006, and were arrested and prosecuted for disrupting a legal activity under
the laws governing aggravated trespass. But they were cleared on a technicality
because the shoot, near Brindle in Lancashire, did not have a health and
safety policy and had not undertaken suitable risk assessments.
that employ more than five beaters, paid or volunteer, have to ensure they
have a robust health and safety policy, and the judge in the Brindle case
ruled that because they did not, the saboteurs could not be prosecuted for
disrupting a lawful activity. An increasing number of animal rights activists
are turning their attention to shooting as the ban on fox hunting enters
its third year.
Against Cruel Sports has already launched a fierce campaign, A Bloody Business,
against the big business side of game shooting, and saboteurs who previously
had targeted hunting are now increasingly looking at disrupting shoots.
captain Peter Worden said: "The saboteurs trespassed across fields
where there were no footpaths and lined up in front of the guns, shouting
at us, waving their arms and taking photographs. "Before the season,
we had called a meeting to discuss what we would do in the event of protestors
coming, as a neighbouring estate had been experiencing numerous problems
with such attacks. On the day, the whistle was blown and the police called.
All seven saboteurs were arrested." But the sight of the saboteurs
walking free from court prompted the Countryside Alliance to issue a warning
to all shoots.
from Scotland, shooting is most popular in the West, with millions of pounds
generated from large country estate shoots.
chief executive Simon Hart said: "We cannot agree with this judgment.
It is a bitter pill for everyone who enjoys country sports and who wants
nothing more than to continue their lawful business free from harassment.
judgment did seem to contradict a legal precedent, established in the case
where trespassers at the Newbury bypass development tried, and failed, to
argue that the developers contravened Health and Safety legislation by not
wearing gloves to fell trees.
Brindle case itself does not set a precedent, but the Newbury case should
have been taken into account by the court. The Brindle judgment leaves a
sour taste that these shoot saboteurs were not fully brought to book for
their actions. Whatever the outcome of this case, all shoots should have
their health and
safety policies in order. The Countryside Alliance has developed a guideline
to risk assessment on shoots to help avoid legal pitfalls.
risk assessment of the shoot is in line with the code of good shooting practice
and the game shoot standard assurance scheme and we would encourage every
shoot to read the advice and ensure they are covered."