Hunt saboteur ‘hate campaign’ forces church to cancel carol service

Hunt saboteurs disrupt the Cambridge and Eltisley Hunt in 2015 - David Rose for The Telegraph
Hunt saboteurs disrupt the Cambridge and Eltisley Hunt in 2015 - David Rose for The Telegraph

A church has been forced to cancel its carol service after a “hate campaign” by hunt saboteurs.

The Diocese of Hereford has announced that “based on police advice” they were cancelling a service for the local hunt, the United Pack, in the interest of the “personal safety” of a clergy member and those attending.

The decision came after hunt saboteurs posted details of the carol service at St George’s Church in Clun alongside the email address of Reverend Caroline Harrison. Activists were asked to get in touch and complain.

The message was posted on social media by a number of animal rights groups and activists, and people from as far away as Canada and New Zealand said that they had sent messages.

A spokesman for the United Pack said that they had “taken the decision to make alternative arrangements in the interest of the welfare and safety for all involved after learning from social media that anti-hunt activists had organised a targeted hate-filled campaign against local clergy, which clearly caused considerable anxiety for the victims.

“We would like to extend our thoughts to anyone on the receiving end of violent threats from a small minority of extremists.”

‘Threatening and violent’

The Diocese of Hereford said that there had been a “number of untruths” spread on social media about a clergy member who it was assumed would be holding the service.

“The decision has been made in the interests of her personal safety and that of anyone expected to attend,” the spokesman said. “Our churches remain open to everyone and offer anyone a welcome, whatever their belief or worldview.”

Polly Portwin, director of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting said: “Anti-hunt activists, while small in number, are routinely threatening and violent towards anyone who may not share their obsessive viewpoint and social media is a convenient place to share details of the victims they wish to harass.

“It is horrific to think that such a clearly liked and respected pillar within the local community has been the target of their hate.”

West Mercia Police said that their officers “advised St George’s Church around site safety and public protection, however we did not instruct anyone to cancel the service.

“There is no ongoing investigation into this matter at this time.”