Under Attack – We must be doing something right

Earlier this year, a certain newspaper accused us of “squandering” a generous legacy. The truth of this matter was that the first time League Trustees met to discuss investing the legacy was three months after the story appeared.

We now have a journalist suggesting an ‘improper’ relationship between the League and elements of the Conservative Party,  I think I’ve now seen it all. Recently, a magazine for Britain’s gun lobby accused us of being a Labour Party front…because the paw in our logo was red, which is Labour’s colour. (This is for real). Come on opponents, at least get your story straight!

This new story looks likely to appear in the next couple of days. The fact that we are about to be in the public eye because we will be commenting on the Boxing Day hunts is coincidence, surely? Sadly not. This smacks of a deliberate political attempt to discredit us at a crucial time.

So what exactly have we done now?

It transpires that in 2010 – yes, six years ago – the League allowed supporters of a Conservative anti-hunting group to stay in a cheap hotel room left vacant by a League staffer who went home sick. The hotel wouldn’t let us get our money back, so rather than let it go un-used we let someone else have it.

Definitely one for Interpol.

As an ex-journalist, I think it’s a real pity that some in the profession allow themselves to be ‘played’ – I’m sure in many cases unwittingly - by powerful interests. There are some very influential people hell-bent on bringing back hunting and killing foxes and other wildlife for sport. The League was instrumental in bringing in the Hunting Act a decade ago, and we’ve never been forgiven.

Some of these people are now afraid we will succeed in banning other cruel sports such as driven grouse-shooting. Witness the abuse Chris Packham got earlier this year after daring to suggest that illegally killing birds of prey near to grouse moors was, well, illegal. For that he’s been called an ‘extremist’ and an attempt was made to have him kicked off the BBC. (It failed.)

But that word ‘extremist’ is a favourite of those who like to kill animals for sport. If you don’t agree with fox hunting, stag hunting or ‘game' bird shooting, then you’re an ‘extremist’. From recent polling, that means around eight out of ten people in this country are extremists.

And these attacks aren’t just a matter of words being thrown about. Earlier this year two of our wildlife crime investigators were brutally attacked while monitoring the activities of a fox hunt from a public bridle-way. One of them – a former police officer – was left with a broken neck. Two of the 6 alleged perpetrators have been bailed until January 2017. The other 4 appear to have got away with it.

Simply put, we’re winning the war, and they don’t like it. We’re professional, polite and use evidence, and they don’t like that either. They will keep going after us – and we’ll keep telling the truth.

It is ironic that while we’re being accused of letting someone stay in a small hotel room we’d already paid for, claims that a senior official of the UK’s main pro-shooting organisation threatened to put a bullet between the eyes of a colleague haven’t been “exposed” quite so loudly. That’s life, I guess.

So if you oppose killing and harming animals for pleasure, expect to be called an ‘extremist’. And expect to see more ridiculous stories about the League.

At the risk of further demonstrating the ‘inappropriate links’ between the League and the Conservatives (!), allow me to quote former Tory Prime Minister Winston Churchill: “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

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