Hunt leaders have urged their supporters to pretend they are being harassed or assaulted by anti-hunt monitors in a bid to sabotage video evidence.
The West’s director of the Countryside Alliance said the astonishing tip came from a police officer, who advised the best way to scupper any video evidence taken by monitors was to make up stories about being abused by those doing the filming.
Last night, anti-hunt campaigners accused the Alliance of encouraging supporters to mislead the courts and the police.
In a leaked email sent in early January and seen by the Western Daily Press, South West regional director Alison Hawes urged Countryside Alliance members, hunt staff and followers to turn the tables on monitors by pretending they have been threatened or attacked.
She wrote: “I have just been in conversation with one of the Police Wildlife Officers who has given me the following advice, which I think is very useful and I would recommend all hunts adopt this tactic.
“If you have the antis out filming you and they stick a camera in your face, advice is to say something along the lines of, “Will you stop using threatening language – please stop swearing at me… Now that you have turned the video on, I bet you won’t repeat the foul language.”
Other phrases to sabotage monitors’ videos include: “I will call the police if you threaten me once more – I will not put up with being called a ******* …speak to me like that again and I will call the police. I am about to call the police as you have assaulted me.”
In the email, Ms Hawes suggested these phrases should be said even if the monitors had done nothing wrong. She said: “By using one of these sentences (even though they have not been threatening) or similar it helps ruin their film as it does not look good if video evidence appears in court or is sent to the police, with a hunt supporter indicating they have been threatened, and the antis absolutely hate it.
“I think it’s excellent advice, particularly for hunt staff so please do pass it on amongst your hunt,” she said.
Last night the organisation with the most anti-hunt monitors in the West – the League Against Cruel Sports – accused the Alliance of inciting fabrication of evidence.
“It would appear that the Countryside Alliance is encouraging its supporters to deliberately fabricate evidence in order to mislead the police, the courts and the public,” said LACS chief executive Douglas Batchelor.
“It is telling that it is doing this at a time when incidents of hunters assaulting monitors are being widely reported. It is disturbing that a serving police officer appears to be involved and I anticipate that a full investigation will be launched by the appropriate authorities.
“If hunts are acting within the law they have nothing to fear from being monitored, indeed one would have thought they would have welcomed it. That they are conspiring to fabricate evidence indicates they have something to hide,” he said.
Countryside Alliance spokesman Tim Bonner said the advice originated in a shooting magazine and said it wasn’t official Alliance policy.