Eight animal rights activists have been arrested in Cheshire after a confrontation between their campaign group and the local hunt coordinators.
Members of the Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs covered their faces with balaclavas as they protested against a hunt that took place on the morning of Saturday January 4.
In a video posted to the Saboteurs’ Facebook page, activists claim they saw a live fox being chased by hounds, despite organisers maintaining it was a legal trail hunt.
Trail hunting is a legal activity that was brought in when fox hunting was banned in 2005 – it involves laying a scent across the countryside that a pack of dogs then tracks.
The Sabs organisation describes itself as a “group of autonomous individuals dedicated to saving the lives of hunted animals through non-violent direct action.”
However, over the weekend some its members were accused of carrying out an “abusive and violent tirade” against Cheshire Hunt operators, who organisers said have been subjected to an “an ongoing campaign”.
A spokesperson from the hunt said: “The way these extremists treat the police is appalling and we just hope that justice will be served on those individuals who have been constantly harassing and intimidating us.”
Polly Portwin from rural campaigning group Countryside Alliance criticised the “consistently abusive and anti-social behaviour” of the activists and maintained that the Cheshire Hunt operates “entirely legally and has always co-operated with the police”.
Officers attended at around 11:45am and seven of the men were arrested on suspicion of assault and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. The eighth was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
All have since been released on bail and enquiries are ongoing.
The campaign group said the arrests were made over “ludicrous accusations” as it posted online to say “we will never back down”.
In the post, the Sabs write: “We would like to invite everyone to show their disgust at the hunt, the followers, the police and these vile safety officers.”
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