Countryside Alliance

The Countryside Alliance strategy was to “wrap up hunting in the rural fabric, because everyone hates hunting and loves the countryside.”
Janet George, Countryside Alliance’s former Chief Press Officer

Former Name: British Field Sports Society

In September 2004 the Independent reported that the increasingly militant action against MPs and ministers were being orchestrated from the very top of the Countryside Alliance. The Alliance’s refusal to condemn the protests meant direct attacks on MPs’ homes and Labour Party offices would escalate. A memo from Stephen Lambert, chairman of the Council for Hunting Associations – a body linked to the Countryside Alliance – boasted that they ‘got away with it’ after the violent demonstrations in Parliament Square led to several arrests and sixty police officers being injured.

The Board of Directors of the Countryside Alliance [as of 29th March 2002] consists of:

John Jackson This ridiculously busy man cannot possibly have enough brain-space left to think coherently about the countryside: He is Non-Solicitor Chairman of law firm Mishcon de Reya, Chairman of Ladbroke Group, and Celltech plc.; A Director of Billiton plc, Wyndeham Press Group plc., WPP Group plc., Xenova Group plc., Brown and Jackson plc., and Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trust; Special Advisor to the Korda Seed Capital Fund and Cambridge Animation Systems Ltd.; and one of the four owners of History Today. His original involvement with the Countryside Alliance was through the Countryside Business Group.

Bill Andrewes Definitely a hunting enthusiast, Bill Andrewes was with the British Field Sports Society (BFSS), before becoming Chairman of the Campaign for Hunting. Having been elected Vice-Chair of the CA Board, he relinquished his other position.

Richard Burge: A zoologist and former Director General of the Zoological society of London, colonel’s son Richard Burge is also a Member of the Labour Party. He is a trustee for the Television Trust For The Environment and of the Charles Darwin Centre. He also sits on the council of the Shropshire and West Midlands Agricultural Society. His appointment as Chief Executive is said to have caused consternation in some quarters, particularly after an interview in the Spectator, in which he said that he would take a job from anybody, had never hunted, and that the Countryside Alliance would survive without hunting.

Lord Mancroft Tory peer Lord Mancroft was Deputy Chairman of the BFSS, and is chairman of Inter Lotto UK Ltd.

Maurice Askew Has been associated with the Union of Country Sports Workers and is or has been Master of the Barlow Hunt in Derbyshire. He is quoted as threatening that “We are fighting for liberty and freedom. My warning for Mr Blair is that if he does not listen to us there will be a civil war in this country, the like we have never seen since the days of Cromwell and Fairfax.”

Prof. Caroline Tisdall Formerly a Guardian journalist, Caroline Tisdall is now Professor of the Department of Rural Future at Oxford Brookes University. She shoots, angles, stalks, hawks and “would die in a ditch to defend hunting”.

Robert Waley-Cohen Owner of a healthcare company, Robert Waley-Cohen has been a steward for The Jockey Club, (also associated with the Jockey Club are fellow CA board member Charles Wilson, Christopher Sporborg, a Countryside Alliance director, and the Duke of Roxburghe and Lord Vestey, donors to the CA) is a racehorse owner and is organiser of Upton House Horse Trials. He was an executive of Christies Auctioneers (UK and US) from 1969-1981, and in 1983 founded Alliance Imaging Inc., the largest out-sourced radiology department in the US, followed by Alliance Medical Ltd., the largest out-sourced radiology department in Europe. He is also a trustee of the Countryside Foundation for Education, a member of the National Trust, and the Country Landowners Association (due to being a partner in a farm on land surrounding Upton House in Warwickshire)

Charles Wilson Is a former Managing Editor of Mirror Group Plc; former Editor of The Times a Trustee World Wide Fund for Nature UK and a member of the Jockey Club.

David Reynolds Master of the Woodland Pytchley Hunt, David Reynolds is so keen to defend hunting that according to the East Northants. Anti-Bloodsports, he has tried to ride over saboteurs on a number of occasions.

Bob James A well-known angler, Bob James is Chairman of the Countryside Alliance’s Gone Fishing Campaign.

Mark Firth Chair of Foresight, the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Shooting, Mark Firth is Joint Managing Director of Roxton Bailey Robinson sporting agents. He participates in shooting, fishing, stalking and other country sports in the UK and worldwide.

Sam Butler Chairman of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting, Master of Warwickshire Hunt and partner in estate agent Butler-Sherborn, Sam Butler is a particularly badly-placed person to be a leading light on an organisation which claims to care about rural communities. His estate agents sell extremely pricey homes to rich folk, with not a hope of the locals being able to afford them. Nick Cohen of the Observer phoned Butler-Sherborne posing as a cash buyer for a remarkably over-priced Cotswold pad. On expressing concern that he could face hostility for being a townie, the saleswoman replied ‘Oh no, Everyone round here’s a commuter.’

Butler made rather a fool of himself by bellowing without a blush to a demonstration outside the Labour Party Conference: ‘Our forefathers didn’t fight Hitler to have this lot take away our liberties.’ One of Butler’s forefathers was ‘Rab’ Butler, who certainly didn’t fight Hitler. He appeased him throughout the Thirties and then aided Lord Halifax’s manoeuvres to force Churchill to bring about a negotiated surrender in 1940.

President – Baroness Anne Mallalieu QC A Labour peer and a hunt fanatic: “Hunting is our music. It is our poetry. It is our art. It is our pleasure. It is where many of our best friendships are made. It is our community. It is our whole way of life.” (Could have added ‘Killing is our perversion.’)

Deputy President – Lord Marcus Kimball Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Lord Kimball has been Director of the Royal Trust Bank, External Member of the Council of Lloyds, and Tory MP for Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. He has been Huntmaster of the Fitzwilliam Hounds and Cottesmore Hounds, and frequents Whites and Pratt’s gentlemen’s clubs.

Commercial Directors

Christopher Sporborg A banker who lives on a farm in Hertfordshire. One wonders what happened to the farmer…

Michael Hoare A banker from London. A real yokel then…

Nick Bannister A stockbroker from London. Hmm.

Secretary – Roger Loodmer An angler from London.

Also of interest is that out of the Countryside Alliance’s token five pounds’ worth of shares, one is held by Andrew Salvesen, who was a Non-executive Director of Christian Salvesen plc. between 1989 and the demerger in September 1997, when he was appointed to the Board of Aggreko plc. He had more than 20 years’ with Christian Salvesen, including being Managing Director of Christian Salvesen’s former Oilfield Technology operations. He is a Non-executive Director of Smedvig ASA and Stirling Shipping Ltd as well as being Chairman of Robertson Research Holdings Limited, Canvas Holidays Limited and Roxar ASA. Quite what expertise about the countryside this has given him is unclear.

Who Else?

Who funds the Countryside Alliance?

A document leaked to The Observer revealed a number of donors to the Alliance. They include:

Prince Charles Who lent his house for a cocktail party and has failed to condemn the violent actions of hunt supporters.

Sir Hardy Amies The Queen’s dressmaker

Lord Vestey The meat tycoon and polo playing chum of Charles who is page of honour to the Queen.

Marquess of Hartington Chairman of the British Horseracing Board and the Queen’s representative of Ascot.

Sir Christopher Bland Chair of the BBC – no surprise!

Duke of Northumberland One of Britain’s richest men with 132,300 acres who caused controversy by riding roughshod over local opinion by planning to build executive homes in Chatton on his estate.

The Duke of Westminster Britain’s richest man, with an estimated fortune of £4 Billion, gets £3,000,000 in farm subsidies per year for his farm near Chester, is a member of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA, formerly the Country Landowners’ Association), was one of the original board members of the Countryside Movement and has been the President of the Game Conservancy Trust and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. He is reported to have helped out the Countryside Movement with a £1 million-pound ‘loan’. He was also on the Countryside Alliance’s board until a 1998 re-shuffle in order to make themselves look less like the voice of the landed gentry, and is one of the Countryside Alliance’s main funders, though rumours that he is the ‘anonymous benefactor’ who provided its offices were denied by the Alliance.

Sir Robert McAlpine construction company which blacklisted construction workers.

Sunley Holdings construction company which also blacklisted construction workers.

Persimmon Homes home-building company. In a stunning piece of hypocrisy, the Countryside Alliance on one hand expresses concern about the destruction of greenfield land and recognises that “the problems caused by this type of development extend far beyond the obvious destruction of attractive countryside and wildlife habitat,” yet on the other hand are funded by those who are responsible for this destruction.

Who Does the Countryside Alliance Support?

Shares: Yet more double standards are apparent in the CA’s investments. It has more than £40,000 worth of shares in Barclays bank, which caused a storm last year by closing 171 rural branches. On one hand the Alliance is campaigning against these moves, whilst on the other, financially supporting them. Likewise, it holds £30,000 worth of investments in Shell, whilst backing the oil protests in 2000 and simultaneously claiming to care about the environment, and also holds large investments in super-polluter ICI and ethically-challenged mining company Rio Tinto, not to mention arms and tobacco companies.

PR and lobbying company PPS Group Ltd

The Countryside Alliance’s choice of PR and lobbying company is particularly noteworthy. Political Planning Services Limited may not be big, but it carries disproportionate weight, consisting of individuals who have worked closely with politicians in the past. Again, a great conflict of interest is present in the Countryside Alliance’s support for this company, since it specialises in trying to get through controversial planning applications. On its web page, it even boasted about helping US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer to get planning permission for a new UK headquarters on greenbelt land!

Past clients include McDonalds, Morrisons, Orange, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, not noted for their ecological thinking, nor for their equitable treatment of farmers, nor for their contribution to healthy local economies. Through its support of PPS, the Countryside Alliance supports abuse of the planning system, whereby those who have money pay for lobbyists to get them round the planning laws, and cover the countryside with community-killing sprawl, whilst those who do not have difficulty getting permission to build themselves a single home and also bear the brunt of increased traffic, community decay and increasingly mind-numbing jobs. Likewise, being a specialist in controversial planning applications, PPS has over 20 home-building, construction and quarrying companies on its client list, and the Countryside Alliance supports this whilst at the same time expressing concern about the destruction of the countryside.

Lastly, concerning PPS, it is worth noting that Mark Pendlington, former managing director at PPS Group, is now Chief Executive of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), bringing out yet more cosy links between landowners, big business and manipulation of government.

This and other information is available in:

THE RICH AT PLAY: Foxhunting, Land Ownership and the ‘Countryside Alliance.’