Shocking scenes in rural Cheshire at the weekend, as eight masked hunt saboteurs were arrested following an alleged abusive and violent tirade against a local hunting community.
Seven men were arrested on Long Lane in Spurstow, on suspicion of assault and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place, while the eighth has been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
The incident occurred at the meet of the Cheshire Hunt who were partaking in legal trail hunting activities.
People of all ages had gathered to show their support on Saturday. Trail-hunting involves the laying of a scent across the country which a pack of hounds then searches for and follows using their noses. It was brought in when the Hunting Act 2004 was enforced in February 2005, so as to allow hunts to retain their infrastructure while complying with the new law that had banned traditional foxhunting.
A spokesperson from the Cheshire Hunt said: "Our staff and supporters have been subjected to an ongoing campaign despite the hunt working within the law. We've had to hire a dedicated security team to ensure the safety of our staff and our supporters, including children, who are taking part in a legal activity. The way these extremists treat the police is appalling and we just hope that justice will be served on those individuals who have been constantly harassing and intimidating us. We will, of course, assist the police with any enquiries."
Polly Portwin of the Countryside Alliance said: "The Cheshire Hunt operate entirely legally and has always co-operated with the police while the consistently abusive and anti-social behaviour of these activists is disgraceful. It is of great credit to Cheshire police officers, and the hunt supporters, that they deal so calmly with such unpleasant behaviour on a regular basis. The reality however, is that this should not be happening in the first place. Animal rights extremists are putting the public at risk through their behaviour and the pursuit of their vindictive and obsessive agenda."
A Land Rover Discovery with tinted black windows, which can be seen in the photographs shared by the hunt saboteurs themselves, was pictured in footage which showed a group of masked saboteurs at a similar sabbing incident on an estate in Trefnant, North Wales. It is not known who was driving the vehicle in either incident.
The group, led by Paul Allman who has links to the Stockport Monitors and who was convicted of assault on a former Master of the Cheshire Hunt in March 2019, launched an abusive tirade against Rebekah Uden, a 31-year old mother of two after she confronted then in October 2019 for trespass on private property.
A video captured by Ms Uden, shows a burly male standing in front of the same Land Rover, as she is repeatedly sworn as by Allman and his sidekicks.
The Cheshire Hunt has been subjected to a number of spurious allegations of illegal hunting made by hunt saboteurs however, upon police investigation, all charges to date have been dropped.
A spokesman for Cheshire Police has confirmed they attended reports of a disturbance in Spurstow on Saturday morning and later stopped a vehicle nearby. They confirmed that a total of 8 men were arrested and that they have now been bailed.
The Countryside Alliance is campaigning to raise awareness of the violent and intimidating tactics often deployed by animal rights extremists in incidents such as this and has called on the government to implement strong measures to counter animal rights extremism.