Billionaire owner of H&M bans hunting on his huge English estate

Credit: PA

Hunting has been “stopped with immediate effect” on land belonging to the owner of fashion chain H&M.

Stefan Persson, the Swedish billionaire, owns Ramsbury Estates covering 19,000 acres across Wiltshire, Berkshire and Hampshire 

ITV News has been told there will be no hunting on the land “for the foreseeable future” after allegations were made against the Vine & Craven Hunt.

A spokesperson for the estate said the hunt “have countered the allegations, but if proven the law will take its course”.

According to Forbes Persson is worth more the £15 billion.

He stepped down as chair in May 2020 but the business is still in the family with his son Karl-Johan taking over the role.

H&M was founded by Persson's father Erling in 1947.

Stefan Persson opens an H&M store in Japan. Credit: AP

The Hunt Saboteurs Association said: “We're delighted that Ramsbury estate have stopped any hunting with immediate effect but we're even more delighted at how quick they were to take this action.

"It shows that land owners are desperate not to become embroiled in the police investigation and public outcry that's engulfing the hunting community.

"Finally 15 years after the Hunting Act the tide is finally turning and hunts are fighting for their very existence.

"Well done to Reading Hunt sabs for bringing Ramsbury estate to public attention.

"We look forward to many other large estates denying access to the hunts.”

The Ramsbury Estate is the latest in a growing list of UK landowners to suspend hunting on their land since ITV News revealed that police were investigating the sport.

Forestry England, The National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, United Utilities, the Lake District National Park and The Church of England have all suspended trail hunting and ITV News is aware of other major landowners ready to act.

Last week two councils also moved to prohibit hunting on their land.

Peterbourgh City Council voted to ban Trail Hunting in a move described by the Countryside Alliance as a “dangerous precedent”.

Trail Hunting is where hounds follow an artificial scent often manufactured from the carcass of a fox and it is legal.

Cheshire West and Chester Council also backed a policy that paves the way for a ban on their land passing a motion that aimed “to prevent potential illegal activity in breach of the Hunting Act 2004 and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and to prevent damage to other flora and fauna by hunts, their hounds, followers and objectors”.

Cherwell District Council in Oxfordshire is due to consider a temporary ban on Monday.

ITV News has reached out to the Countryside Alliance & Vine and Craven Hunt for a response to the Rambsury Estates decision.

A spokesperson on behalf of Ramsbury Estates said: “I can confirm that the Vine & Craven hunt were on the Hungerford end of the estate last Saturday.

"I am aware of allegations being made against the hunt.

"If they have broken the law under the 2004 Hunting Act it is a very serious offence.

"They have countered the allegations, but if proven the law will take its course.

"Regarding whether they will be allowed back on land belonging to Ramsbury which is a private estate, that really is a matter between us.

"However, we have stopped with immediate effect any hunting operations for the foreseeable future."

A Vine and Craven Spokesperson said: "The Vine and Craven Hunt has always enjoyed a good working relationship with Ramsbury Estate, as it does with the many other landowners who allow the hunt to conduct trail hunting across their land.

"We will continue to liaise with the estate to ensure they are fully aware that these are just spurious allegations made regarding our hunting activities and are without foundation.

"In the meantime, we look forward to continuing to trail hunt in a Covid-secure manner."