Jeremy Clarkson targeted by hunt saboteurs over badger sett claims

Jeremy Clarkson bought the farm in 2008 where he films the TV series which catalogues his trials and tribulations as a farmer
Clarkson bought the farm in 2008 where he films the TV series which catalogues his trials and tribulations as a farmer - AMAZON PRIME

Jeremy Clarkson’s farm has been targeted by hunt saboteurs who reported him to police over claims badger setts on his land had been illegally blocked.

The 63-year-old television presenter was visited by police this month after animal rights activists claimed an illegal hunt took place on his 1,000 acre Cotswolds property.

The Telegraph can reveal that five separate videos were recorded which appear to show a badger sett blocked off with rocks in an apparent attempt to prevent a fox going to ground in the animals’ dens.

Earlier this month the outspoken Top Gear and Grand Tour presenter wrote in his column in The Sun how “police came round” after officers received reports of “filling in badger setts”.

He added: “Mercifully, however, I had the perfect excuse. I’ve shot all the badgers on the farm so why would I want to fill in their setts? And yes, before you ask, it was all legal.”

Now, hunt saboteurs have admitted monitoring a hunt on his land in January and last week because the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? presenter has granted the hunt access to his land.

The Cotswold Hunt Sabs wrote on their Facebook that Clarkson was a “pro-hunt landowner” who had a “strong hatred for badgers” so they were not “surprised” setts had been blocked.

Setts on Clarkson's land have apparently been blocked
Setts on Clarkson's land have apparently been blocked

They added: “It’s a bit sad how desperate he is to be liked by his farmer buddies really.”

Lynn Sawyer, of the Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs which was “hunt sabbing” at Clarkson’s farm, said the television presenter was targeted because he allows hunting on his farmland.

Ms Sawyer, 56, claimed: “I found the setts handblocked. He may not have known it had been done.

“We are not picking on Clarkson. Instead we are trying to protect badgers from being persecuted and killed. We do not discriminate.”

She filmed a number of setts where Cotswold stone appears to have been “rammed” into the entrance to the badgers’ dens.

Ms Sawyer said hunt hounds may chase foxes into badger setts before a single hound is sent in to flush the animal out. By blocking off the sett, the fox cannot find a safe refuge, but it can also trap the badger.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “We received a report of illegal hunting and the blocking of badger setts on land near Chadlington at around 7.25pm on 25 January.”

There is no suggestion that Clarkson himself filled in the setts.

Clarkson bought the farm in 2008 where he films the Clarkson’s Farm television series which catalogues his trials and tribulations as a farmer. He renamed it Diddly Squat Farm due to its lack of productivity.

Social outcast

Clarkson wrote that he would have been regarded a “social outcast” if word had got out that he had been filling in badger setts.

He continued: “That is a serious criminal offence which can result in big fines and lengthy prison sentences.”

Both badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Scotland Act 2011. Setts are networks of underground tunnels in which badgers live.

Clarkson has previously estimated that there are 100 badgers on his property. One corpse he had tested on his television show was found to have tuberculosis. The Badger Trust accused his show of being “part of a long tradition of demonising badgers”.

Three years ago, he complained that a fox had killed 34 of his hens, before saying he thought it would be “fun” to “invite the hunt and the antis and them have a massive battle” on his land.

Although he has previously watched the Boxing Day hunt on his land, he has described huntsmen as “pompous”.

He once said: “I’ve never really cared about the plight of what is basically an orange dog, but then I’ve never cared much for the idiots who charge around the countryside on horses.

“And I don’t think I’m alone on this. Most people are too busy to give a stuff, either way.”

Clarkson was last week described as a “buffoon” by Chris Packham, the BBC presenter and environmentalist, after the farmer said he bought a “gas-guzzling” Range Rover “just to spite him”.

Clarkson’s Farm is set to return to Prime Video in May.