Hunt pays 'fine' for holding up trains as hounds chased a fox on the Banbury to Leamington railway on New Year's Day

Warwickshire Hunt has paid out a fine, said to be £13,000, and written a letter of apology for trespassing on the railway line between Banbury and Leamington on New Year's Day.

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 1:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 1:10 pm
One of the images released by British Transport Police in an effort to discover the identity of huntsmen on the track, holding up a passenger train on New Year's Day

The foray onto the line near Fenny Compton happened when hounds were following the scent of a fox.

A train was held up on the track for some time and another 20 services were disrupted because of the delay. The incident was reported in the Banbury Guardian.

British Transport Police issued photographs of huntsmen who walked onto the line trying to gather the dogs, with an appeal for information leading to their identities. It is understood the men's names were discovered but no individual has been charged in connection with the incident.

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An image released by British Transport Police investigating a trespass by Warwickshire Hunt on the Banbury to Leamington railway line

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Following an investigation by British Transport Police (BTP) a number of individuals were identified as having trespassed on Network Rail property on January 1 this year in the area of Fenny Compton.

"On the conclusion of the enquiry those individuals took part in a Community Resolution Process managed by British Transport Police officers and accepted conditions that were approved by the relevant parties most affected by the incident. The enquiry is now complete and British Transport Police would like to thank the public for assistance in this matter.”

A spokesman for Warwickshire Hunt did not confirm the amount paid to the railway but said: "The Warwickshire Hunt cooperated amicably with the BTP to resolve the issue which is now closed. Once again we apologise to anyone who was affected by the incident and are glad that no person or hound was harmed."

At the time rail authorities said the train cab had a forward-facing camera and that the driver believed he had struck a hound. However, on reaching the scene, British Transport Police officers did not find a body.

West Midland Hunt Saboteurs, who monitor the hunts in the region, said they thought the hunt had 'got off lightly' and questioned the need for identification of those trespassing on the line if they were not going to take action against them.

"Why did the police bother to ask the public to identify individuals on the train line if they had no intention of charging them with criminal trespass or malicious obstruction?" said a spokesman.

"The hunt always complains about saboteurs trespassing as if it's the worst crime in the world so we find it hugely hypocritical that they themselves trespass on a regular basis through people's gardens, church yards and railway tracks."