IFAW: Landmark Victory as Hunt pleads guilty to offences under the Hunting Act

(London, 17 December 2012) – The Heythrop Hunt and two of its members pleaded guilty today to offences under the Hunting Act 2004 at Oxford Magistrates' Court.

The Heythrop Hunt Ltd pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawfully hunting a wild fox with dogs in a landmark victory in the campaign against the cruel sport of hunting with dogs. It is the first time that an entire Hunt has been faced with corporate charges and been found guilty of illegal hunting.

Retired Hunt Master Richard Sumner and retired Huntsman Julian Barnfield of the Heythrop Hunt also pleaded guilty to four separate counts of unlawfully hunting a wild fox with dogs. The sentencing is due to take place later today. Footage which was filmed by Hunt monitors was presented as part of the evidence in the case which was taken by the RSPCA.

Fox Hunting, in which foxes are pursued by packs of hounds and mounted riders, is banned under the 2004 Hunting Act.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “This is a very significant milestone as it is the first time that a fox hunt in England has been convicted as a corporate body. It sends out a clear message that both individuals and organised hunts who engage in activities which involve the cruel pursuit of animals for sport can and will be successfully prosecuted.

“IFAW is committed to ensuring that the Hunting Act continues to be enforced across the country. Given that animal welfare organisations gathered the evidence in this case, this highlights the significance of the work carried out by wildlife crime investigators. IFAW and other organisations’ professional hunt monitors will continue to work tirelessly to document the illegal activities of a minority of individuals who are breaking the law.”

The Heythrop Hunt has several high profile supporters, including the Prime Minister David Cameron.


For more information or interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

Notes to Editors:

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.