by Countryside Alliance

The Charity Commission has been urged to ‘act robustly’ following a complaint about a campaign of harassment launched by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) against businesses and organisations that are associated with hunts.  

LACS has been “demanding with menaces” that a fundraising platform cut ties with legally registered hunts, as well as targeting other corporate sponsors of various hunting-related activities, including point-to-points.  

The Sunday Telegraph reports that LACS and its supporters have sent more than 2,600 emails to Jumblebee, an online fundraising site, warning it to stop allowing hunts to use the platform.

Activists also waged a social media campaign and within four hours Jumblebee deleted its Twitter account, which the League said that it could “only assume” was due to “the sheer volume of tweets”.

On its website, Jumblebee states “We work with a variety of individuals and organisations to raise funds in a fun and engaging way. We are happy for any lawful individual or organisation to use our site but that does not imply that we share the views of that individual or organisation or support their activities.”

It also clearly states: “jumblebee does not fund any individual or organisation that uses its site, it provides a tool for each individual or organisation to raise funds for themselves or a nominated cause.”

The LACS has also targeted other small businesses, claiming any links to hunts will damage their reputation.

In recent correspondence - seen by the Countryside Alliance - sent by Emily Lawrence, a LACS Regional Campaigns Manager, the charity targets a corporate sponsor of a hunt. The hunt in question has never been charged or convicted with any illegal activity in relation to any breach of the Hunting Act.

The letter states a string of appalling, baseless accusations about how the business is ‘complicit’ in the ‘brutal killing’ of wildlife. As such, Ms. Lawrence writes, the business should cease donations to the hunt’s auction to ‘protect your [the] business’s reputation’. It clearly gives the impression that failure to comply with LACS’s demands will result in the business being negatively impacted, because of further targeted campaigning by the charity orchestrated by the ‘Regional Campaigns Manager’.

This is not the first time LACS have been reprimanded for targeting businesses in this way. In 2011, after contacting corporate sponsors of the West Vale Hunt in Somerset, the Charity Commission set a precedent after it said they had “raised the issue with the charity and reminded them that any activity carried out in their name must be in accordance with the charity’s aims. We have also referred the charity trustees to the commission’s guidance on trustees’ roles and responsibilities”.

Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, has written to Helen Stephenson, the Charity Commission’s Chief Executive, asking for her to take robust action.

He warned that the League had been “openly running a campaign of harassment targeting businesses connected to registered hunts which operate perfectly legitimately and properly”.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: “Given the League have already been reprimanded in the past for falling short of the strict guidance in place which governs how a charity must conduct itself, it would only be right for their latest bullying antics to be met with swift action by the Charity Commission.

It has been confirmed the Charity regulator is now assessing the complaint, a spokesman said.

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