Chairman of Barlow Hunt denies assaulting two anti-hunt campaigners during a fracas
The chairman of Barlow Hunt has been accused of assaulting two anti-fox-hunt campaigners while allegedly “snarling with gritted teeth” after they had crossed paths at a New Year’s Day event.
A Chesterfield magistrates’ court trial heard on Tuesday, November 12, how Mark Davies, 67, of Lumb Lane, Bradfield, Sheffield, has denied assaulting Austin Jordan and William Robinson in a field on private land at Highlightley Farm, off Highlightley Lane, at Barlow.
Prosecuting solicitor Ian Shaw said Mr Davies and his wife Joan Williams, who is a Joint Master of the Hunt and a former South Yorkshire Police Superintendant, were observing the event while campaigners were monitoring the area to ensure no foxes were harmed.
Mr Jordan and Mr Robinson were heading towards Mr Davies and his wife who told them they were trespassing, according to Mr Shaw, before they were allegedly attacked by Mr Davies.
Mr Shaw said: “When they reach Mr Davies and his wife they are told they are trespassing and they should go away and the difference in accounts comes into play.
“Mr Davies says he was attacked by Mr Jordan and he acted in self defence. Mr Jordan said he was grabbed first by the throat and pushed back and Mr Davies went to the floor.
“Then Mr Davies is seen to push Mr Robinson into a bush.”
Mr Jordan, who is a member of the Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs, told the court he and five others were present to ensure Barlow Hunt did not kill any foxes which is illegal.
He added some of the campaigners, including himself and Mr Robinson, had driven to the Gate Inn, at Cutthorpe, where the Barlow Hunt was meeting earlier that day and both Mr Jordan and Mr Robinson claimed Mr Davies had initially blocked them in with a vehicle and followed them.
Mr Jordan claimed that later when the campaigners had been walking across a field at Highlightley Farm, Mr Davies made a “beeline” for him and started grabbing the upper part of his jacket near his neck and Mr Jordan said he was forced to push him in the face as Mr Davies fell.
He also claimed Mr Davies got off the ground “completely enraged” and tackled Mr Robinson to the ground in some bushes.
Mr Jordan added that he was then grabbed from behind by someone he believed to be Mr Davies’s wife and he claimed she would not let go and as he turned she fell to the ground.
The court was shown footage from two of the anti-hunt campaigners’ cameras and from Joan Williams’s camera which had both captured parts of the fracas.
Mr Robinson told the court: “Mr Davies came lunging towards Mr Jordan out of the blue. He was shouting at Mr Jordan as he grabbed him and he put his hand towards his neck and he was shouting and Mr Jordan shouted back.”
Mr Robinson added that Mr Davies had been saying something about private land as he got hold of Mr Jordan and before he was pushed away Mr Davies fell to the ground.
He added: “Mr Davies got up off the ground snarling with gritted teeth and made a lunge for me.
“I backed away with my hands out showing I meant no physical threat whatsoever but he kept coming and he got hold of the top of my collar.
“He got his hands on my collar and was pushing his fists into my neck and he was squeezing and hanging on to my collar. I was on my back on the floor.”
Mr Robinson added that he could hear Mr Davies’s wife “shrieking and swearing” before Mr Davies allegedly let him go.
Defence solicitor Stephen Welford confirmed at the time of the hunt both Mr Jordan and Mr Robinson and some others in their group were members of the Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs and Mr Jordan had citronella spray and Mr Robinson had a horn to distract the hounds.
He argued Mr Jordan and Mr Robinson and others had been committing aggravated trespassing by being on private land without permission while interfering with a lawful activity.
Mr Welford also said that the anti-hunt campaigners had appeared in the field masked and that they had looked intimidating.
He stressed that despite sightings of a fox neither Mr Jordan or Mr Robinson saw a fox being pursued.
It is illegal to hunt foxes with a pack of dogs, according to the Government, but they can be used to simulate hunting with drag or trail hunting which involves laying a scent for a pack of hounds to pursue.
The court heard how Barlow Hunt is allowed permission to use the private land at Highlightley Farm by the land owner.
Mr Welford also claimed Mr Davies had suffered a bloody nose during the incident on January 1, 2019.
Some animal rights campaigners had also invaded Mr Davies’s privacy prior to the trial, according to Mr Welford, by publishing pictures of him nude on Facebook from a charity calendar which he had been involved with to raise money for the Pennine Foxhounds.
Mark Davies, who is a first tier immigration tribunal judge, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault by beating.
The trial - which attracted interest from animal rights campaigners who stood outside court during the hearing - is set to continue.
District Judge Andrew Davison adjourned the trial until a provisional date of December 11.