Presenting all of the many emails we have been given on Spooners we will do in chronological order, under sub headings.
The Early Days
Andrew Smith was brought in to the hunt in December 2017, he was inexperienced as a master and had very poor control of the hounds. Many pro hunt people like to talk about protecting chickens from foxes as a reason to go fox hunting, yet hounds kill chickens as well.
And it’s not just livestock the hunt bothers, the owners of this cattery/kennels were not happy:
And of course the hunt trespasses into nature reserves without a care in the world:
Andrew Smith, titles his email “cubbing” dated September 2018 which has not been in use publicly for some time, hunts are now supposed to refer to it as “Autumn Hunting”, some very interesting points in this email of his, Judith Webster is a qualified vet, why is she asking for and passing on a foxes tail to a small child? A quick look at the Froy family on facebook and the daughter who had helped kill a fox during cubbing must have been around the age of 10 when this happened. This indoctrination of children into the act of killing is how fox hunting continues to this day, many of them have been raised in a culture of violence.
Judith’s work as a vet is clearly competent as Andrew would have shot 2 of 3 hounds she treated for injuries on wire whilst out hunting:
August 2019, Complaints Are Made.
Judith Webster we know made her first complaint to the Spooners hunt committee on the 3rd of August. We don’t have a copy of her complaint and only know that it was about the way Andrew treated hounds. Below are the emails we do have from August 2019. The first is what we assume is another hunt member (who names another hunt member) backing up Judith Webster the vet and was sent in to the hunt on 11th of August. Again cubbing is referred too and two incidents of hounds being beaten and one instruction that hounds should be beaten to death. This first email from August is probably the most shocking:
On the 12 of August Mark Hankinson, the Director of the MFHA, is emailed with a long list of complaints: hounds are run over on an A road, the hunt secretary refuses to do any more puppy walking due to the way the hounds are treated in the kennels, a ram is killed and no apology is made, a deer is chased into a swimming pool.
The hunt asks that Mark Hankinson act as their broker and want to offer Andrew £5,000 to leave within the week:
On the 15th of August a Richard Watson who has been with the hunt for 30 years, writes a long email explaining in detail how he tried to help Andrew Smith, the last line from Richards email is worth noting:
“sadly events have transpired that mean that a speedy alternative solution needs to be made for the welfare of the hounds and the success of the hunt”
Mark Hankinson as director of the MFHA replies that he agrees, which then begs the question why isn’t Andrew Smith immediately sacked and kicked out of the MFHA pending a full inquiry? The MFHA from this point going forward are clearly complicit with trying to cover up the abuse of hounds. Mark also points out that Andrew is refusing the £5,000 offer to leave within a week.
Mary Alford, the chair of the Spooners hunt, emails Mark Hankinson again on the 16th August. She states that Andrew is to be left in charge of the hounds, even though by this point several members of the hunt have made very serious accusations about the way the hounds are treated:
The next email is from rradar, the legal firm gives help to all hunts with regards employment issues. This is supplied by AXA the insurance company as part of the legal fees insurance. Note here that the initial complaint by Judith Webster the vet was made on 3rd of August 2019. As a vet Judith Webster SHOULD have made a complaint to the RSPCA or the Police (page 90 of the vets code of conduct), the fact that she didn’t would suggest she didn’t want to bring fox hunting into disrepute.
On the 28th of August rradar advisor is sent an email highlighting the fact that Judith Webster, a vet who made the initial complaint, still hasn’t been contacted by the MFHA with regards to her complaint of animal cruelty. Yet Mark Hankinson from the MFHA has been chatting to Andrew Smith the master the entire time. The hounds are at this point still being looked after by Andrew Smith who is known to beat hounds and has advised they be beaten to death if they don’t do as they are told.
Mark Hankinson who has been involved in this incident from early August, had this to say at the MFHA meeting on September 12th:
An email between the hunt and Andrew Smith solicitor reveals on September 23rd that the offer to leave has now been increased to £10,000 to cover up his abuse:
On September 24th the demand for money from Smith to leave has increased to £20,000 and the hunt have no access to the hounds:
On 25th September the hunt committee consider upping their offer to £15,000 to get rid of Smith and there is a lengthy point by point explanation of how they have gotten to where they are:
Also on the 25th of September it becomes clear that Judith Webster the vet was demanding that Andrew Smith be sacked or she would go to the RSPCA. This is blackmail. Judith as a vet had a duty to inform the RSPCA but clearly didn’t as she didn’t want to bring fox hunting into disrepute:
On the 27th of September an agreement is starting to be drawn up. That means the hunt will make a bland statement about what has gone on and all parties are to sign a confidentiality agreement, so that no one ever finds out about the abuse of hounds. Judith Webster testimony is questioned due to her not having given specific timings, this point is raised by the MFHA. Would that be the same MFHA that refused to speak to her? And as a qualified vet does her testimony really not stand up for itself?
On the 27th of September, rradar outline their offer to Smith, only £10,000 and he has to vacate the premises within a few days:
The confidentiality agreement is discussed again on the 30th of September, basically no one can repeat any of the allegations:
On October 13th after quite a few negotiations (copies of which we have but for an attempt at brevity are not going to publish) Andrew Smith’s lawyers push for a settlement which must include a statement that he hasn’t ever abused any hounds:
On October 14th the committee clearly isn’t happy with a statement saying that the allegations were unsubstantiated:
On 18th of October, Tim Easby from the MFHA thinks that keeping the entire debacle away from social media is a good idea, who can blame him?:
October 25th and a full 12 weeks from when Judith Webster first raised concerns about Andrew Smith and he’s finally no longer at the hunt kennels:
After all that time, it’s cost a fortune and split the hunt supporters. How much of a split isn’t known, although their finances (which we published last week) certainly reflect a steep drop in income.
The final agreement between the two parties shows that Andrew Smith has a written note absolving him of any wrong doing, although no one from the MFHA ever interviewed Judith Webster or any of the other people who made complaints as a formal inquiry didn’t happen. Andrew was paid £15,000 for his silence.
And anyone would think it would end there. Andrew Smith has abused animals and then managed to get payments and signed contracts to make sure the story never gets out, but for some reason Andrew decided he’d take it further by stealing the hunt gun. He managed to sign it out from the gun store where it was kept, but all the hunt committee are convinced he never had a license. The police won’t do anything because of COVID.
Andrew not having a licence first came up early 2019 when he wasn’t able to shoot a pony:
Andrew didn’t have a licence but that didn’t stop him from taking out of the gun store on August 17th, two weeks after the first complaint against him was made:
The MFHA are informed and asked to be kept in the loop, Andrew has gone back to his old self and is blackmailing the hunt into paying him for it’s return:
In meeting minutes this year, it’s noted that the police won’t do anything because of Covid, you can read those minutes here.
With the police unable or unwilling to bother doing anything with hunts, whatever the crime, it is it seems up to the general public to try and find some sense of justice. We would ask people to contact members of the Spooners hunt and politely ask them why they allowed Andrew Smith to hunt foxes, hunt fox cubs and beat hounds. You can download their mailing list for August 2020 here, please do be polite as a number of people may well have already left the hunt after all the problems with Andrew Smith. It is perfectly lawful to contact people and ask them questions.
If you’d like to just contact the committee members, please do copy and paste this list into an email and ask them all at once any questions you have about what happened:
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; Kerry.J.Hepworth@devon.gov.uk Kerry.J.Hepworth@devon.gov.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
If you prefer facebook, you can have a look at all the members of the Spooners private facebook group via this document here.