A few weeks ago, video evidence came from the hunting world that showed Joss Hanbury master of the Quorn hunt had been given a “birthday surprise” by his wife Nicky Hanbury who is also a Master of the Quorn Hunt. So when news came out this week that two Masters were to be suspended by the MFHA, the assumption was that it would be Nicky and Joss Hanbury.
However, Nicky Hanbury has received no punishment from the MFHA at all, the other Master who has been suspended is Rowan Cope, who wasn’t even at the birthday fox hunting event. His statement on facebook:
“So the last thing I wanted to do is explain my position on social media – but when it begins to affect my family and my 75 year old mother, who was interrogated at a hunt ride today, then it’s about time you all know the truth!
I was not present on the 18th March for the birthday meet.
I was not part of the planning and unaware of a ride afterwards. It was Cheltenham Thursday and I was sat with my wife watching the racing. During the day I forwarded a video I received of the event to a few trustworthy close friends for which I am truly sorry for and naturally regret – but that is all I did.
I have since been suspended by the MFHA for 6 months. My name has been dragged through the gutters and an awful lot of bad press including on ITV has belittled me. For the good of hunting and for the proper people who remain in our wonderful sport, we will stay strong and get through this episode. I thank those who have messaged and rang and question those who have spread further gossip. You know who your friends are!
We all move on, no crime or murder has been committed and our sport remains intact for the future. Happy hunting to you all.”
No one has accused Rowan of being at the hunt so his story sounds entirely credible, he has been suspended for simply sharing a video that has brought the world of fox hunting into disrepute. This is an act of whistle blowing and Rowan Cope just like anyone else in the hunting world should be able to share videos or speak out against anything they see as wrong. There is an official document for whistle blowing that you can read here.
But the reality is staff cannot raise genuine concerns without fear of reprisals, as Rowan Cope can testify to.
The MFHA operates a “code of silence” in a similar way to any organised crime gang.