by Countryside Alliance

A prominent member of the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs has pleaded guilty of assault by beating after appearing at Coventry Magistrates’ Court on Friday 9th October 2020.

John Watson, who was filmed assaulting a member of the Warwickshire Hunt on February 15th 2020, was sentenced to paying a £132 fine plus a victim surcharge as well as being ordered to pay £135 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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The shocking attack, which took place in a country lane near Preston on Stour, saw a hunt follower thrown violently to the floor by Watson, who proceeded to scream loudly in a shocking rampage.

Watson of Ryton- on- Dunsmore in Warwickshire, was one of around 20 hunt saboteurs who had descended on the countryside to sab the trail hunting activities of the Warwickshire Hunt that day.

Two separate groups arrived in mini buses from both the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs as well as Liverpool Hunt Saboteurs. Each were dressed in black and wearing balaclavas designed to intimidate hunt supporters and their families.

Police were called upon their arrival, and officers attended shortly after. After asking the masked saboteurs to disperse witnesses confirmed they quickly returned shortly after the police had vacated the scene.

It was at this time that Watson, who has a long history of being involved in extreme animal rights activism, launched a staggering attack on a hunt steward. The steward had attempted to protect a vehicle, before Watson threw him to the floor while shouting ‘get out the way’.

Witnesses recall that Watson started shouting loudly, while brandishing a radio and waving a video camera.

The victim, who remains anonymous out of fear for his safety, was left shocked by the incident.

A spokesman for the hunt said: “The Warwickshire Hunt are pleased to see justice handed out to a member of the increasingly violent West Midland Saboteurs.

“Witnessing a member of our hunt being attacked whilst protecting his colleagues, their children, and our animals is a frightening thing to experience and we are pleased that the law was upheld,” continued the spokesperson. 

“We hope that the practice of organised masked, increasingly aggressive gangs looking for a fight in our countryside will now come to an end, especially with the current state of the nation.”

Polly Portwin, Head of Hunting at the Countryside Alliance said: “ These were incredibly concerning scenes. Hunt Sabs regularly inflict violence on hunt supporters and staff as part of their class war driven agenda. We are pleased to see this matter has been dealt with robustly.”

Last month, another member of the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs was convicted by a jury in Leicester of using edited footage to falsely bolster his claim that a farmer had assaulted him on the farmer's land.

David Graham, 35, was found guilty unanimously of perverting the course of justice by using video evidence which misrepresented what had happened.

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John Watson (pictured), a prominent member of the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs, pleaded guilty of assault by beating after appearing at Coventry Magistrates’ Court on Friday 9th October 2020.

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