New lease of life for fox hunters.

Also from the late edition...


In an astonishing concession to the pro-hunting lobby, it has been revealed that the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, is to give the rural hunts full authority to tackle the growing problem of country crime, while the nation awaits the outcome of threatened legislation against the ban on hunting.

Tally ho

Although the Government has succeeded in pushing its anti-fox hunting legislation through, a Home Office advisor told us yesterday: "You can treat the British Army as badly as you like, but foxes have to be treated more humanely because they're quite cute."

The adviser also told us that Mr Clarke had "no objection whatsoever" to the soon to be underemployed huntspeople tracking down and maiming suspected rural criminals at will. "No-one finds burglars or vandals cute. We've checked."

Haystack Load

Government strategists are said to have persuaded Mr Clarke that the banning of foxhunting may lose him a "haystack-load" of votes at the next general election and the problem of rural crime may lose him "a whole damn barnsworth more" in country areas. He therefore views this proposal as a major initiative to solve these serious electoral dangers.

From now on country toffs will be entitled - as of right - to range over the countryside looking for car thieves, shoplifters and graffiti artists, and putting them to the chase. Once caught, the criminals will be humanely torn apart by wild dogs before being blasted through the head with a shotgun.

Hereditary Bloodlust

A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, Lord Hugo of Hackenbush, told us from his country estate that, "this is a marvellous initiative. At a stroke it will give many of our poshest and richest members the chance to exercise their Saturday morning hereditary bloodlust, while doing the rest of the community a favour at the same time! It's truly a third way policy."

The proposal is also being viewed by the Government as a major cost-cutting exercise. In the words of one Home Office Official, "it saves the whole tedious and rather expensive process of catching the criminals, putting them on trial, feeding them, and then putting them up in prisons for ages at the expense of the British taxpayer." Not bothering to hide his obvious enthusiasm for the new plan, he continued, saying "this new method is cheap, efficient and reasonably clean. As for the humanitarian angle - this scheme will actually do criminals a favour. After all, the truly fit ones will survive to re-offend another day".

Despite this it has been suggested that the plans may be in breach of the United Nations Torture Convention, which has apparently pleased the Home Secretary "immensely". He then said "if I or my department attract any bad publicity over this scheme, I will simply deny all knowledge of ever having sent any memos about it - or to have rung up some mates in other departments to speed the process up."

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