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Boxing Day Hunt abuse 'overstepped the mark'

Created on 28/12/2017 @ 16:43
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It has turned into one of the biggest local debates in recent times, but it has now led to claims of online abuse and possible police involvement.

Ever since a group of protesters voiced their disapproval of the traditional Boxing Day hunt gathering in Welshpool town centre, the row has erupted online with calls for calm coming from both sides of the debate.

But the extent of the online fall-out has been revealed by a protester who said she has to think twice about leaving the house due to the threatening nature of some of the abuse.

Nicola Morris was one of the handful who participated in a peaceful protest outside the Town Hall as the Tanatside Hunt rode past. While their jeers were drowned out by cheers from the big crowd of hunt supporters, there have been allegations online of abuse aimed at the riders, which included children, as they rode past.

This has been vehemently denied by the protesters, and a video released appears to support their position with only one protester heard shouting ‘shame on you’ repeatedly to the hunting party. A fellow protester can be heard asking their vocal colleague to be quiet.

But it has turned ugly since with the language and accusations flying across public forums often crossing the line.

“What should have been a democratic right to protest against something a majority of Britain believes is wrong has turned into online abuse, threats and bullying,” said Nicola.

“I am actually quite worried because it has become very personal against some of us who were there simply to express our views, which are supported by a majority of British people. These Boxing Day events are organised to garner support for hunting and we were there to show, in a peaceful way, that there is opposition.

“We have received a lot of support for what we did, but it has also become a witch hunt. We protested peacefully and certainly did not hurl the abuse that some people have claimed. The video that was released supports that. We had a right to protest.”

Nicola was one of two Welshpool town councillors protesting with Heather Chave also claiming to have been the target of online trolls. Both have reported the abuse to the police.

MyWelshpool has received numerous correspondence from both sides, but one woman who contacted us and asked not to be named said she was there out of tradition and was stood near to the protesters.

“There was one woman that was shouting ‘shame on you’ but in fairness there were others saying to be quiet,” she told us. “But what I have seen since online has been out of order and has gone way too far. I am only contacting you to say that what I saw and heard on the street on the day was fairly civilised, but the stuff written online in the days since has been ridiculous and very sad.”

Supporters, including Glyn Davies, MP, claimed that this year’s Hunt was the biggest gathering that they could remember with large crowds lining the street.

Hunting with dogs in its traditional form has been banned for more than a decade, but protesters claim that some hunts exploit loop holes in the law. The Tanatside Hunt has been holding its traditional Boxing Day get together for almost a century.

PICTURE (by ©Owain Betts): Big crowds lined the street for the annual Boxing Day Hunt parade.

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