This year when the hunt saboteurs are dealing not only with the usual hunting season but also the badger culling, in two separate zones, the call on their resources was at an all-time high. Suddenly a new group calling itself Herts Hunt Sabs pops up claiming that the HSA does not support local groups against all current evidence.
This author has not only been a sab (saboteur) but also knows many people in the movement past and present, although I am not now an active sab I still support their actions against hunting. Concerned about these claims I started to investigate and found a murky, worrying story.
Herts hunt sabs was set-up according to their Facebook page on July 11th 2013, in itself strange to start a sab group outside the hunting season.
It is run by a Lorraine Edwards who at the time of these incidents was possibly the only person in Herts hunt sabs, although there may have been one other person. A grant request was made from her to the HSA for £2,000. At this point Herts hunt Sabs (Lorraine Edwards) had only been out on one hunt on the 31st August (with another group) which had turned out to be puppy walking, so no intervention was required, she claims to have turned up in the cull zone but before the shooting had started.
My sources tell me her request was discussed by the committee of twelve experienced sabs, from all over the country, and was not turned down but deferred until December. The reason being the group was so small, new, with no experience it was requested that they join up with other groups to show their commitment before such a large sum was handed over. I questioned if this was common practice, and in cases where a grant is not clear or did not seem to be directly for hunt sabotage it was not unheard of. The HSA contacts officer contacted Lorraine Edwards informing her of the decision when the trouble started.
On 12th September comment on the Herts hunt sab Facebook page stated that they were disassociating themselves from the HSA, and they then go on to make some strange claims. To quote from their posting:
We applied to the HSA for funding for a vehicle of £2000 (enough to buy one and insure it) and gave assurances of our actions for the season and offered to sign a contract so that the HSA knew that at any point our group disbanded or we werent being active enough, the vehicle would be given back to them.
For starters buying and insuring a Sab vehicle (usually a seated transit van or land rover) would cost much more than £2,000 and most groups when trying to buy a new vehicle raise some cash themselves before asking for a grant to get the rest required. The part about signing a contract is pure fabrication and was never offered. More to the point the HSA never asks for such assurances. I checked with a couple of present and past committee members. The only thing close to this was there were sometimes assurances made that if the group in question failed the vehicle would be passed onto another sab group. There has never been anything put in writing and of course to draw up such a legally binding document would more than likely cost more then £2,000.
After these postings attempts were made to communicate with Loraine Edwards but no response was made. Comments were made defending the HSA by other group pointing out the reasonableness of their actions, and that many groups around the country had received large sums of money from the HSA, including that telling people not to support the HSA was damaging to the wider hunt sabotage movement.
On the 2nd October this was posted:
At long last we had some feedback from the HSA as to our questions on where their money is being spent and why such a large amt is being sat on..evidently that large amt of money is no longer and a purchase of 4 drones has been made which obviously will have major impacts on the monitoring of hunts, ( the first outing being a hunting festival in Cumbria in mid October) , however as much as we think this is brilliant that they are using this monitoring equipment , we dont agree with the huge amt spent and it should have allocated better, still at least after much prompting we have had a response, so hopefully that answers some of the supporters questions. Lets hope these drones are as good as they are made out to be then !!
This was in reference to a press release of the HSA stating they were going to use camera drones.
Once again I checked with my sources, the HSA has not blown its bank balance on drones, and although there was reluctance to say how much had been spent I was assured it was less than £1,000 and to their knowledge no official of the HSA had spoken to her about this.
The rest of the Facebook page is copies of other posts and very little of the groups independent action none of which is verifiable.
The penny then dropped. I was then told by a source who must remain nameless, that Lorraine Edwards is ex-police officer. She left the force under some cloud (it is claimed) but details are not clear.
So to sum up what do we have?
1. A respected direct action organisation run by elected activists of many years standing, at a time when it is direct opposition to a government policy to kill badgers.
2. A small very new group suddenly telling a whole movement not to support them on the grounds it did not hand over cash to them at first request.
3. The main (possibly only) person of this group is an ex-police officer.
If Lorraine Edwards is a paid police infiltrator, a self-appointed wreaker or just someone who decided to join a moment and was upset that those who had been sabs many years did not cheer, throw her a party and throw money at her I am not sure. Either way this is damaging the hunt sab movement and I expect the hunters are loving it.
I for one smell a low level operation to try and discredit the HSA when their support is at an all-time high, either by a self-important idiot or someone with connections to the authorities who would love to see hunt sab effectiveness decrease or stop altogether.
I would urge all to continue supporting the national HSA and their local hunt sabs, and until they prove themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt to avoid Herts Hunt Sabs.