COULD James Barrington (letter, March 25) explain exactly what makes him an Animal Welfare Consultant? This title implies significant practical knowledge - field studies or working with animals day-to-day. Has he fitted this in between his "change of heart" that resulted in him suddenly betraying his anti hunt beliefs - and colleagues - and 'jumping into bed' with the hunters, displaying his new loyalties by grinning as he posed for the newspapers with hounds and hunters before they set off on their gory fun?

Mr Barrington is an Animal Welfare Consultant for… the Countryside Alliance. As that body's primary purpose is to promote blood sports, this seems a sharp contradiction in terms.

He is writing to newspapers arguing that the hunting ban should be scrapped. Posturing as the voice of reason, he claims that new welfare legislation would replace the Hunting Act. He omits that this has been written by hunt supporters, and that, by requiring proofs of cruelty that would be almost impossible to obtain, it would allow fox, deer and hare hunting, and coursing, to take place unhindered. In practice, either a post-mortem of a hunted animal, or extensive, close-up film would be needed to prove the victim animal suffered, in every case.

The hunters would ensure that nobody got the chance to obtain either proof. Who would succeed in (or even brave) trying to retrieve a dismembered fox or hare from the hunters, or drag a slaughtered stag away from them? Hunters' violence and obstruction already make it nearly impossible for monitors to obtain evidence-standard film, even just of Hunting Act breaches. Mr. Barrington's new ‘welfare legislation' is a sham, designed to ensure live quarry hunting would be effectively untrammelled.

Putting to one side Mr Barrington's unctuous assurances, look instead at the words of Tim Bonner, spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, speaking on BBC Radio 4 in 2009. Referring to the Hunting Act, he said: "We set out to test this law, we have tested it, we've tested it to destruction....." Why should such ruthlessness be rewarded?

The British public's view on hunting wild animals with dogs is settled - it is inherently cruel, barbaric, unnecessary and unjustifiable and should be prohibited. The current law was cunningly weakened at its inception by pro-hunt interests. Mr Barrington seeks to fool people into allowing the hunters to finish their current trashing of the law - by seeing their friends in government scrap it altogether. But he doesn’t tell them the truth – that what will take its place is deviously custom-designed for the convenience of those who delight in blood sports.

The only changes to the current law acceptable to the public would be to remove its loopholes and to strengthen it.


Hunt Monitors Association

Gt Haseley