The government is facing fresh calls to strengthen trail hunting laws ahead of Boxing Day parades across the UK.
Activists are once again urging government ministers to close a hunting “loophole”.
The calls to tighten hunting laws comes ahead of the many Boxing Day parades expected to be held nationwide today, and comes after the League Against Cruel Sports recently revealed there were 303 combined incidents of hunt havoc – which is defined as trespass, road interference, and disturbing animals – between the dates 1 November and 7 December.
Boxing Day is widely considered to be the biggest day in the hunting calendar, with more than 200 hunts expected to parade through UK high streets, before they head out to the countryside.
Fox hunting was banned in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004, but hounds are still allowed to follow a scented cloth instead – which is called trail hunting.
Although more a total of 438 convictions under the Hunting Act have been secured over a decade – with 42 secured last year – the League Against Cruel Sports said incidents of illegal fox hunting have still been recorded between the period of 1 November and 7 December.
The animal charity revealed that it received 78 reports of a fox being visibly pursued, eight reported kills, and three suspected kills.
League Against Cruel Sports campaigns chief Emma Judd argued their figures show hunting has a “negative impact” on rural communities.
She said it’s “time for change”.
“People will see the hunts out today and not know that behind the finery is a so-called sport that sees public lives endangered on roads and railways, livestock worried by out-of-control hounds, and in some cases domestic pets killed,” Ms Judd added.
“Only by strengthening the law on hunting can communities, wildlife and rural values be protected.”
But Polly Portwin, head of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting – which is calling for the bloodsport to return – argued that now is not the time to be discussing hunting legislation.
She said: “There have been hundreds of thousands of days of legal trail hunting carried out by hunts since the Hunting Act came into force.
“Only someone with extremely warped priorities could think that with the country facing a cost of living crisis, the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and political instability that now is a good time to start discussing hunting legislation.”
Labour said it believes trail hunting is being used as a “smokescreen” for the illegal hunting of foxes.
Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon said the government must “do more to close the loopholes” and “consign hunting to the history books”, adding that: “Labour is the party of animal welfare and in government, we will go further to protect animal welfare by putting an end to trail hunting.”
Countryside Alliance chair Nick Herbert accused Labour of harbouring a “pointless political vendetta against hunting” and that the party’s position on it is “utterly illogical.”
“Labour is drawing battle lines in the countryside when it should be trying to unite the country,” he added.
At this time, the UK government appears to have no plans to strengthen the legislation.
Addressing the fresh calls from anti-hunting activists, a government spokesman said: “The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs, and anyone who believes that an offence has taken place should report the matter to the police.
“Those found guilty under the act are subject to the full force of the law.”
This hidden Manchester pasta and dumplings restaurant has just made the Michelin Guide
Michelin has just added some new additions to its guide, and one of our favourite Manchester restaurants has finally made the cut.
Loved by locals for its continental pasta and dumplings, gorgeous European wine list and sake collection, The Sparrows in the Green Quarter is something of a hidden gem – tucked in a disused railway arch on Red Bank.
It received rave reviews from local and national critics alike when it first opened in 2019 in a tiny space with room for just 12 covers. Since then, it’s relocated to a bigger home and its following has grown significantly.
After spending years wowing foodies in the know, the restaurant has made it onto the radar of Michelin’s inspectors at last – and we have to say, the accolade is well deserved indeed.
Front of house is headed up by Polish-born Kasia Hitchcock with her chef partner Franco Concli at the helm in the kitchen. Plates celebrate Franco’s Tyrolean heritage, with their signature dish spätzle, a rustic fresh egg pasta from which the restaurant takes its name, sitting front and centre.
Traditionally made by scraping dough from the wooden board straight into a pot of boiling water, these irregular-shaped delights translate from Swabian-German to mean “little sparrows.”
Served in multiples ways, they can be enjoyed either savoury or sweet – mixed with braised onions into a creamy gruyere and Emmental cheese sauce, as is traditional, or transformed into a pudding with a touch of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter.
Joining the now seventeen Manchester restaurants to be featured in the prestigious guide, its description reads as follows: “Nestled under the railway arches in Manchester’s Green Quarter is a restaurant whose name is (almost) the English translation of the word ‘spätzle’ – which gives some clue as to the style of food on offer here.
“The dumplings and assorted pasta dishes are all made in-house and include excellent pierogi. The focus on Eastern Europe carries through to the wine list, which has a leaning towards Polish wines.”
A welcome new addition, if you haven’t yet visited then we recommend you book in swiftly. No doubt the news of its conclusion in the Michelin Guide will send reservations filling up pretty sharpish.
Feature image – Google Maps
New DNA evidence could clear ‘innocent’ man who spent 17 years in prison for Salford rape
A man who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he has continued to claim he did not commit has now been granted a fresh appeal after DNA was linked to an alternative suspect.
57-year-old Andrew Malkinson from Grimsby was convicted by a jury verdict of 10-2 of strangling and raping a woman in Little Hulton in Salford back in 2003, and was jailed for life following a trial at Manchester Crown Court in February 2004.
The victim – who had been walking home alone in the early hours of 19 July 2003 – was sexually assaulted after being throttled until the point of unconsciousness, and also suffered a broken neck and a fractured cheekbone during the attack.
There was no DNA or other forensic evidence linking Mr Malkinson to the crime at the time, and the prosecution case relied mainly on identification evidence from eyewitnesses.
This is why he has always maintained his innocence and insisted it was a case of mistaken identity.
Mr Malkinson had twice been refused an appeal in the past after applying for his case to be reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) – which is the body responsible for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice – but after being released on license from prison back in 2020, scientific techniques have advanced, and this has potentially lead to some new evidence.
The legal team at the charity APPEAL was able to commission new DNA testing that revealed the presence of unknown male DNA in samples taken from the victim and her clothing, and this “breakthrough” has therefore cast doubt on Mr Malkinson’s conviction.
APPEAL Director Emily Bolton said “the battle for justice is not yet over”, adding that the CCRC “will now form its own view of the fresh evidence and we hope they will agree that Andy’s conviction cannot now be regarded as safe.”
Mr Malkinson says he “finally has the chance to prove his innocence”.
“I am innocent,” Mr Malkinson questioned in a statement provided by his legal representatives.
“Finally, I have the chance to prove it thanks to the perseverance of my legal team at APPEAL. I only have one life and so far 20 years of it has been stolen from me. Yesterday I turned 57 years old. How much longer will it take?”
As well as the case having being referred back to the CCRC this week, in light of new information, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed last month that it had arrested a 48-year-old man from Exeter on suspicion of rape, but he has since been released under investigation.
Addressing Mr Malkinson’s case, CCRC chairwoman Helen Pitcher said: “The new results raise concerns about the safety of these serious convictions.
“It is now for the Court of Appeal to decide whether they should be quashed.
“New evidence can come to light years after a conviction, and in the ever-changing world of forensic science, it is crucial an independent body can undertake these enquiries and send cases of concern back to court.
“Following Mr Malkinson’s application, we used our special powers and expertise to re-examine this case, instructing experts to undertake state-of-the-art DNA testing.”