League hounded into High Court by Hunt

Roger Pearson examines why the Royal Artillery Hunt is suing the League Against Cruel Sports for damaging allegations.

MILITARY huntsmen are heading for a High Court libel showdown with the League Against Cruel Sports. The league and its spokesperson, Rose Pelling, are being sued by Major Jonathan Seed, Master of the Royal Artillery Hunt, over a press release issued by the league.

The release accused the Royal Artillery Hunt of failing to observe a two minute silence, honouring the dead of two world wars, on 11 November last year.

Seed also claims in a libel writ, issued at the High Court, that Pelling went on BBC Radio Wiltshire Sound and claimed that he and other hunt followers failed to observe the two minute silence.

Seed, who is represented by Tunbridge Wells solicitors, Knights, claims the allegations are untrue.

He says that the release, and what was said on the radio, would be understood as meaning that he had acted in a thoroughly disrespectful, insensitive, disloyal and treacherous manner towards the memory of those who served their country in two world wars.

Seed, who serves in HM 14th Regiment Royal Artillery, says that both his personal and professional reputation have been severely damaged as a result of the allegations.

In the major's writ, the league is said to have sent its press release to Reading MPs Jane Griffiths and Martin Salter, who in turn issued a press release urging the hunt to issue an apology for its alleged insult to the dead, and for them to "hang their heads in shame".

The two MPs also drafted an early day motion which proposed that the House of Commons should publicly condemn the hunt for failing to observe the two minute silence.

But, Seed says that after he complained, the motion was withdrawn before being

published in the House of Commons, and he later received an apology.

However, the league and Pelling have refused to apologise for the allegations, despite being told the Hunt did observe the two minute silence.

Seed claims that on the day in question, approximately 50 hunt members met shortly before 11am on 11 November last year, and that at 11am precisely, he called the hunt to order to observe a two minute silence as a tribute to those who served in the two world wars and other conflicts.

In addition to damages, Seed is seeking an injunction restraining the league from further publication of the allegations.