Probe launched into fox hunting group amid animal cruelty allegations
An independent investigation has been launched into a fox hunting group amid allegations of animal cruelty.
The probe, which will be chaired by former Appeal Court judge Sir John Chadwick, will look into the South Herefordshire Hunt, where three people have been arrested on suspicion of causing suffering to animals.
It comes after footage was revealed which animal rights campaigners claim shows evidence of "cubbing", using fox cubs to train hounds to hunt and kill the animals.
In the footage, filmed by the Hunt Investigation Team supported by the League Against Cruel Sports, an individual can be seen carrying a fox cub into a barn where hounds are kennelled and baying, and later disposing of a dead fox in a wheelie bin.
Three people have been arrested and released on police bail.
The Master of Fox Hounds Association, which regulates and represents hunts around the country, said it had launched the inquiry "into conduct which suggests breaches of the association's rules at the South Herefordshire Hunt".
In a statement it said: "The hunt has suspended two members of staff and the kennels are currently closed.
"The South Herefordshire hounds are being looked after by other hunts which are members of the association.
"The inquiry will be chaired by the Rt Hon. Sir John Chadwick, a former Appeal Court judge, and will include Bill Andrewes, an experienced former Master and Hunt Chairman, and Pauline Tolhurst, a practising veterinary surgeon."
West Mercia Police said a 37-year-old man from Hereford and a 27-year-old woman from Hereford were arrested in May on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and had both been released on police bail until August.
In early June, a 37-year-old man from Abergavenny was arrested on suspicion of causing of unnecessary suffering to an animal, and has also been bailed until August.
Hunting foxes with dogs has been banned for more than a decade, with hunts now allowed to participate in "drag hunting" where an artificial scent is laid for the hounds to track.
But animal rights campaigners claim live fox cubs are being kept and used by hunts to train hounds to kill, or as a ready supply of foxes to hunt.
Chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, Eduardo Goncalves, said: "The hounds won't naturally kill foxes so they must be taught to do so and this footage exposes the gruesome training secrets of hunts in the UK."