Countryside Alliance National Wildlife Crime Unit attendance under review following suspension

Phil Davies. Credit: Hunt Saboteurs Association

The Countryside Alliance attendance at National Wildlife Crime Unit meetings is under review after their representative at the top level meetings was suspended following comments he made “relating to illegal fox hunting”. 

Former Dyfed Powys Police Chief Inspector Phil Davies has been suspended as a member of the UK Priority Delivery Groups (PDGs) for wildlife crime after a judge drew attention to words he used in an online hunting webinar.

 An email sent by the Head of the National Wildlife Unit, Chief Inspector Kevin Kelly, and seen by ITV News, says: “The attention these comments have attracted have brought question of the suitability of Mr Davies membership of the PDG’s into consideration.

"As of now I have forthwith, suspended Phil Davies as a member of the UK PDGs.”

A virtual meeting of the Masters of Fox Hunting. Credit: ITV News

He added: “Taking this course of action will also allow me the opportunity to take time to work with the Countryside Alliance to assess the impact of this situation and their role as a Police partner.”

In August 2020 Phil Davies told an online gathering of British hunt masters how to use a video camera to record evidence when out hunting.

He told them they “know more about hunting than the saboteurs or the Courts know, but what [video] will do is create that smoke screen, or that element of doubt that we haven’t deliberately hunted a fox, so if nothing else you need to record that and it will help us to write the defence to your Huntsman."

Mr Davies was not charged with any offence but his quote was directly referenced by Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram when explaining his decision to find leading huntsman Mark Hankinson guilty of advising those who run and manage the sport on how to do it illegally. 

Mr Davies' words have drawn widespread criticism from opponents of hunting including the League Against Cruel Sports. Their CEO Andy Knott told ITV News: “Phil Davies’ suspension from any dealings with the National Wildlife Crime Unit is necessary and justified.

"We are also calling on police forces across the country to consider permanently cutting their ties with the Countryside Alliance, the organisation Phil Davies represents when speaking to police.”

 ITV News has approached both the Countryside Alliance and Phil Davies for comment and they have not responded.