Home > Uncategorised > Members Meeting With National Trust: Statement By Helen Beynon

24th April 2018

Members Meeting With National Trust: Statement By Helen Beynon

Helen Beynon, Jack Riggall and Will Morton prior to meeting with National Trust Director Hilary McGrady in Swindon on April 9th 2018.

On 9th April a group of National Trust members met with the organisation’s new Director General to discuss the ongoing concerns over hunting on Trust land. Helen Beynon, Jack Riggall, Will Morton and Joe Hashman attended as members. Hilary McGrady (Director General) and Mark Harold (Director, Land & Nature) represented the Trust.

The meeting came after the narrow defeat of the motion to ban hunting on National Trust land at its AGM in October 2017 as a result of the Chair’s use of discretionary votes allocated to him, and at the end of the latest hunting season which was characterised by the misbehaviour of hunts and the failure of the Trust to adequately implement even the limited measures promised to members ahead of the vote. While we welcomed the opportunity to meet Hilary McGrady, the need to do so simply reflected the lack of robust action taken since the AGM.

We were told Ms McGrady wanted to hear from all sides, so she could get up to speed with the issue of hunting. Given the track record of many of the previously licensed hunts and those licensed last season, we looked to hear an explanation of why the Trustees would continue to persist in their illogical and callous position of maintaining hunts are responsible and trustworthy whilst disregarding the huge raft of evidence supplied to them by National Dis-Trust, other Trust members, animal welfare charities, hunt monitors and saboteurs.

It was confirmed at the meeting that the licensing system will be reviewed before next autumn’s AGM but will not revisit the decision to allow hunting on Trust land. Describing its ambition to reach a place where it can trust hunts, the Trust does not appear to accept that its view, that the majority of hunts behave responsibly, is fatally undermined by the extensive evidence provided to it at all levels prior to the vote and by the experience of this season, and maintained that it requires its own evidence of irresponsible or illegal behaviour.

The Trust’s failure to live up to the limited promises made to members ahead of last year’s vote has been deeply disappointing and the explanations for this remain unsatisfactory. The granting of licences to hunts with a poor track record, including trespassing and even killing foxes on National Trust land, is the clearest example of the deficiencies of the current system. While the Trust has accepted in some instances that the Board of Trustees reversed its position on some elements of its statement on which members based their vote, it has failed to recognise the lack of respect this represents for the democratic process and for those members who participated in it in good faith.

When asked why the Trustees had decided to change the wording of license requirements, leaving members in the same position as prior to the vote, we were told they changed their minds. It seems they did not consider the implications of the statement prior to the AGM or had another motive for doing so, this in the full knowledge that advising members to vote against the resolution would have a significant impact on how they would vote.

Although we were told the Trustees took this subject very seriously, there was no new system in place to monitor the hunts who were hastily granted licenses last season. We were told that staff had kept an eye on things, but couldn’t be everywhere. It seemed that the Trust are unwilling or unable to address the number of hunts who have trespassed and yet then rewarded them when applying for licenses.

Having not meaningfully taken account of the track records of the hunts it has licensed and not even attempted to monitor their activity on Trust land, it is difficult to imagine that the upcoming Review will be fully informed or effective. The most we have been given to expect is that the Trust may finally adhere to some of the conditions it promised its members and that it will begin to monitor the activity of hunts on its land. However, the potential monitoring system as described to us is unlikely to be credible and there is little reason to expect much improvement elsewhere considering these are the same issues we have been highlighting over and over to no avail since last year.

Sadly this new system will involve each hunt being monitored just once a season, with binoculars! The non-animal scent will be sampled at the same time. Hardly a robust system, particularly as hunts will be prewarned. To choose such an ineffectual approach is a slap in the face to members who still hoped to see signs that the statement by the Trustees was in good faith.

We welcomed the opportunity to place salient facts before Hilary McGrady, including a huge body of written and video evidence. However, we remain extremely sceptical that those supposedly hunting a fox-based scent with purpose-trained hounds when off Trust land will hunt an artificial scent whilst on it. Hilary McGrady agreed that without close monitoring none of us can be really sure how hunts operate on the more remote estates. The nature of the scent supposedly used by hunts on Trust land is frankly irrelevant if we cannot ascertain the hounds are trained to pursue anything but fox.

The hunts are as aware as we are that animals continue to be killed by hounds “accidentally”, surprising no one apart from the Trustees it seems. We await answers to several written questions, which we look forward to receiving from the Trust. Those members who are rapidly becoming more familiar with the barbaric realities of hunting with hounds continue to look forward to an era when the Trust genuinely takes note of those who are expert in the field of monitoring illegal hunting and advising on trespass. We hope for a time when the governance process reflects a genuine desire to respond to member opinions, rather than a situation where members have no opportunity to speak to the Trustees directly other than after they have decided their way forward and with resolutions, whatever their outcome, being considered as simply indicators of opinion, which could easily have been ascertained by the number of petitions and member demonstrations we have seen and which will continue until the Trust stop supporting savagely cruel and outdated activities.

© Helen Beynon 24.04.18

NOTE: We will be publishing an Overview of this meeting at the end of this week.

Share this page:

16 Comments | Leave a comment

  • Jacquie O'shea says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 12:18 am

    Trail hunting is a fabrication for hunts to carry on killing the NT know this and turn a blind eye !! Wake up NT and start protecting our (the people ) wildlife . You are undermining the people that support you.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Gill says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Disappointingly I think no one was surprised that Ms McGrady was singing from the same hymn sheet as her predecessors, namely fingers in her ears and singing “La la la” very loudly. Someone is pulling the strings of the National Trust and until those are cut, nothing will change. The ways that the public can help speed up this change is by not joining the NT, not visiting their properties, attending rallies and demos and commenting on the NT Facebook page and Twitter feed. There are many people like me who were blocked by the NT months ago from commenting on their Facebook page and speaking for myself, all I did was ask polite but relevant questions about their policy on trail hunting. I would like my right to comment back please, National Trust?

    Reply to this comment >
  • Neal says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Hunting is illegal. There is overwhelming, systematically documented evidence, over many years, proving that Trail Hunting is being used as an excuse by hunts to intentionally ignore the ban and break the law.

    This being the case, along with the Trust’s apparent determination to dismiss the above facts, perhaps it is time for members to vote with their wallets instead of a (clearly disrespected and inefectual) ballot.

    If the National Trust are determined to ignore its members concerns, perhaps it is time those members withdrew vast amounts of funding in the form of cancelled memberships on mass, to see if that gets their attention!

    A coordinate campaign to “pull the plug” in large numbers all at once and leave the Natonal Trust to come running back with its tail between its legs?
    It clearly has no respect for its members. Loyalty is a two-way street.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Lucy Moore says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Nt Trustees it’s our wildlife and it’s right to live in peace that you must defend. The land that is in trust is their land. Protect them from being brutally killed. Look at the undeniable facts and act to end Foxhunting on your land. If you are not doing so because of a pro Hunting stance then you must resign.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Brian Jones says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Would it be possible to circulate this account to NT members, advising them to request refund of their fees if they disagree with NT’s stance on foxhunting?

    Reply to this comment >
  • Alison Berenyi says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I am a hunt saboteur, working in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
    We attend as many hunts as possible. The late 2004 hunting act is an absolute joke! Hunting live quarry has never ended. We are always met with verbal abuse, hunt servant aggression, pushed, shoved, blocked, whipped, hit, kicked. Some hunters ride horses at us and/or block our path.

    We are familiar with voice commands. Encouraging hounds to seek and chase live quarry. We never witness trail laying. What scent are the hunts using?! This is rhetorical. Some hunts claim they use fox pee important from USA, this is illegal to import. We see many many foxes running for life. We intervene when we can, to stop them. We are not always successful. Hounds are filmed with blood splatter. At times we are taunted with a dead fox. If hinting a trail, why have terriermen with shovels and a terrier. Why do hunt support watch with binoculars, why are we obstructed and met with violence!!!

    There is no such thing as ‘Trail Hunting.’
    The loop holes in the Ban allow hunting to carry on as it always has, killing live quarry.

    Prince Charles played a big hand in writing the hunting act. A well known pro hunter and Patron for NT. He has been filmed setting snares on your land.

    The National Trust is an absolute joke, a shameful example of lies and deceit.

    The only solution is an all out ban on hunting with hounds. No hunts should be granted licences to hunt on National Trust land. Large fines should be enforced.

    The power of the people is rising. You will not allow our wildlife to be killed, maimed, trampled, terrorised and disturbed.

    Are you waiting for several hunt saboteurs to be killed?! The evidence of illegal hunting is irrefutable. Have some gumption and do as you try to present yourselves. TRUST LAND FOR WILDLIFE TO BE SAFE, THRIVE AND LIVE A HAPPY LIFE.

    Alison Berenyi.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Barbara Rowe says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 9:49 am

    The N.T. should not be a playground for those who like to kill. It should be a peaceful tranquil place for the vast majority of us who are against hunting.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Jim Bevin says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Gave up our membership over ten years ago because of National Trusts attitude to fox hunting and game shooting on it’s properties. Nothing has changed I see.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Jm says:
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Pathetic! My family just want to join up again and enjoy our wonderful wildlife but without hurting it. Where’s the compassion and understanding!!

    Reply to this comment >
  • Neal says:
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 8:22 am

    It all comes down to what it always does sadly


    Establishment money supports (promotes) illegal hunting within NT.
    So although the majority of its members don’t want it, unless those members make their money (or lack of it) count, nothing will change. Ask yourself..why would it?

    With respect to everyone here if you really want this to change words alone will not do it. . Members are gong to have to put their money where they’re mouths are otherwise they’re just wasting. .
    1. their own time and effort complaining to thin air
    2. Animals lives

    ..while nothing changes.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Andy says:
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    If the Trust won’t allow another vote on trail hunting at this years AGM then maybe we should place a motion of no confidence forward on the basis that the Trustees lied to the membership last year and appear to see the Trust as their own personal fiefdom

    Reply to this comment >
    • Neil Armstrong says:
      Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      I think this is a very good idea Andy but I think well actually know that the Trust will reject it & ask the members to vote against it, I will probably have not renewed my membership by the next AGM.
      However I still like the idea & hope it goes forward it will stir them up a lot hopefully .

      Reply to this comment >
  • Brian Scott says:
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I cancelled my membership after the disgraceful carry on at the vote last year regarding hunting with dogs. The Nation Trust blatantly lied about changes to the rules used to persuade members to vote against the ban and promptly dropped all the new proposals they had said they would introduce once the vote was lost.
    Still the inhuman acts go on by the morons that kill for fun. We tried to change the rules from within and failed if every one cancelled there membership that would make the top table take notice.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Brian Scott says:
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    I cancelled my membership after the disgraceful carry on at the vote last year regarding hunting with dogs. The National Trust blatantly lied about changes to the rules used to persuade members to vote against the ban and promptly dropped all the new proposals they had said they would introduce once the vote was lost.
    Still the inhuman acts go on by the morons that kill for fun. We tried to change the rules from within and failed if every one cancelled there membership that would make the top table take notice.

    Reply to this comment >
    • HoundsOff says:
      Posted May 07, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Efforts to get Hunting stopped on NT land has been going on for many years. Please don’t give up. Your membership will not be missed but if you stay then you have a voice and vote.

      Reply to this comment >
  • Frankie James says:
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Money talks. Influence talks. NT depends for its support on people who have plenty of both. Only when the entire ordinary membership leaves and refuses to visit their properties will the NT listen. It is a waste of time to change mega corps from within. Hit them where it hurts. It is a criminal offence to allow hunting of animals with dogs on your land and NT should think on. No one is above the law for ever.

    Reply to this comment >

Leave a comment: