If there was ever any doubt just how influential and well-connected the grouse-shooting industry is, have a look at this from today’s Huffington Post:
Here’s an excerpt:
Boris Johnson is facing a fresh row over his new coronavirus “rule of six” curbs after it emerged that the government has exempted grouse shooting and other “hunting” with guns from the restrictions.
New regulations published by the government for England just before midnight on Sunday have a string of exemptions for sports clubs, wedding receptions and even political protests.
But they also have an exemption for when “a gathering takes place outdoors (whether or not in a public outdoor space)” for the purpose of “a physical activity which is carried on outdoors”, where a licence, permit or certificate is held by the organiser.
HuffPost UK has learned that the Cabinet Office’s special Covid-19 Operations ministerial committee – chaired by Michael Gove – scheduled a meeting on Saturday, with one agenda item titled: “Exemption: hunting and shooting.”
The meeting was abruptly cancelled just hours beforehand, with cabinet ministers and officials told that this issue would be discussed later or via ministerial correspondence.
Insiders believe that the meeting was axed to avoid any ministers raising objections.
Instead, the “outdoor activity” wording was inserted into the regulations, opening the way for an exemption for so-called “country sports” such as grouse and pheasant shooting and hunting.
One source said the entire issue held up the publication of the regulations until shortly before the new law was due to kick in at midnight on Sunday.
Brand new government guidance published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Monday lists “shooting (including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate license)” as a “sport or organised outdoor activity”.
It appears that foxhunting may not be exempted, but the current position is unclear.
When asked by HuffPost UK if the reference to “shooting (hunting)” included foxhunting, a spokesperson said “the exemptions are as listed in the guidance”.
Former minister Tracey Crouch said: “Many will find this topsy-turvy prioritisation from government.
“I’ve had queries about choirs, community bands, addiction therapy groups, all of whom would be worthy of an exemption and instead we are scrabbling around prioritising shooting animals. It’s bonkers.”
To read the rest of the article, please click here
Meanwhile, a photograph alleging to show a group of grouse-shooters in the Scottish Borders enjoying a non-socially-distanced-post-shoot meal has appeared on Twitter:
UPDATE 22.00hrs: Grouse shooting in Scotland also exempt from Covid ‘rule of six’ (here)