Anti-hunt investigators awarded compensation after violent attack
Posted 14th August 2019
One of the investigators, former policeman Darryl Cunnington, had his neck broken in three places during the assault. Roger Swaine, a field operator for the League Against Cruel Sports, was also injured and had his video camera stolen.
The attack took place in March 2016 as the investigators peacefully monitored the activities of the Belvoir Hunt from a public bridleway.
Andy Knott MBE, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This violent response to our investigators from the Belvoir Hunt shows the lack of regard these people have for the law, and only serves to make us more determined to see the Hunting Act strengthened to end hunting with hounds for good.”
George Grant, the Belvoir Hunt terrier man, and his son Thomas Grant pleaded guilty at Leicester Crown Court in June last year to charges of grievous bodily harm on Darryl Cunnington, actual bodily harm on Roger Swaine, theft of a video camera and criminal damage of a memory card. Both received suspended custodial sentences, were ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work and also to pay £500 to both victims.
Four other masked men involved in the attack have never been identified and brought to justice.
Mr Cunnington’s injuries meant he had to take nine months off work to recover, and both men have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress following the incident.
Following the start of civil proceedings against the Belvoir Hunt to recover damages, it was agreed out of court that Mr Cunnington would receive £37,500 in compensation, and Mr Swaine £11,000.
Both men were represented by campaigning solicitor Helen Clifford.
She said: “High Court proceedings were issued against the Belvoir Hunt on the grounds that they were vicariously liable for the assaults and acts of harassment committed by the Grants. My clients’ compensation was paid by the hunt. Whilst liability was denied throughout, the payment of compensation by the hunt speaks for itself. No-one should be injured at work. Those who break the law should be held to account.”
Mr Knott added: “I want to commend Darryl and Roger for the courage and dignity they have shown throughout their ordeal and for the determination of their solicitor, Helen Clifford, to see that they are compensated. That four other balaclava wearing men also involved have been able to evade justice is extraordinary and I am calling on the Belvoir Hunt to name them.
“Hunting in England and Wales was banned in 2005. There is no reason to seriously assault anyone peacefully monitoring activity if there was nothing to hide. Retired police officers with a distinguished record of service such as Darryl, and others also amongst our professional investigators such as Roger, work tirelessly to ensure the law is upheld. They deserve its full protection.”
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