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Paul O’Grady joins campaign for National Trust to ban trail hunting on its land

PUBLISHED: 11:16 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:16 25 September 2017

Paul O'Grady

Paul O'Grady

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Star adds his name ahead of key vote at trust’s AGM next month

Kent star Paul O’Grady has joined a list of celebrities supporting a campaign for the National Trust to ban hunting on its land.

The TV presenter and comedian, who lives in Aldington, near Folkestone, has put his weight behind the League Against Cruel Sports’ campaign which comes just ahead of the National Trust asking its members to vote on a ban.

He joins the likes of Bill Oddie, Sir Tony Robinson, Chris Packham and Peter Egan.

A group of National Trust members, supported by the League Against Cruel Sports, have successfully submitted a motion to ban trail hunting on National Trust land, which will be voted on at the trust’s AGM on October 21.

If passed, the proposed motion will prevent hunts from legally accessing large amounts of land across England and Wales.

Since the Hunting Act 2004 came into force, trail hunting has been licensed on some National Trust land. Campaigners claims trail hunting is just a cover to allow the bloodsport to continue.

Television presenter Paul O’Grady said: “The National Trust’s responsibility is to care for the precious wildlife that lives on its land and we all know there’s nothing caring about hunting.

“National Trust members don’t want to be walking in the countryside and come across a fox or a stag being chased to within an inch of its life.

“The AGM vote is a great opportunity for National Trust members who believe in protection for animals, to show the organisation that they won’t stand by and watch wildlife being persecuted in the name of fun.”

Philippa King, acting CEO for the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “This could be a landmark moment. The National Trust is a treasured institution which does wonderful work, but it has allowed itself to be embarrassed by the hunting fraternity. The reasons hunts give to justify being on National Trust land have been shown time and time again to be mere excuses covering up illegal hunting.

“We believe National Trust members do not want animals being chased and killed on the land they love, so will give the National Trust a strong message at the AGM – if you truly are an organisation that cares about the UK’s flora and fauna, then hunting does not belong on your land.”

The National Trust, which says it is introducing a host of changes to its rules on trail hunting, says its position is: “The trust does license trail ‘hunts’ in some areas and at certain times of the year, where it is compatible with our aims of public access and conservation.

“We believe the overwhelming majority of hunts act responsibly, and we hope our clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions will allow participants to enjoy this activity in compatibility with our conservation aims.

“Any activity associated with the term ‘hunting’ continues to provoke strong emotions on both sides of the debate. We recognise our reforms will not satisfy everyone.

“Our charity’s core aim is to look after the places in our care and that remains our top priority when considering whether to license any outdoor activity. This would be true whether it’s mountain biking or a food festival.

“But our charity was also established for the nation’s benefit and to provide the widest spectrum of public access and enjoyment. We therefore always look to welcome people to our places and to host the broadest range of outdoor activities on our land.

“We believe this should include trail ‘hunting’, where it is consistent with our conservation aims and is legally pursued.”

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