Pub receives death threats over Boxing Day hunt Facebook post

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Annual hunt: Grove and Rufford Boxing Day Hunt usually takes place in neighbouring Bawtry but was moved after the outcome of a vote by the town's council
Annual hunt: Grove and Rufford Boxing Day Hunt usually takes place in neighbouring Bawtry but was moved after the outcome of a vote by the town's council
A Lincolnshire pub has received multiple death threats since it agreed to support the Grove and Rufford Boxing Day Hunt.

The King William Inn, Scaftworth, agreed to support the annual hunt, usually held in the neighbouring town of Bawtry, after the nearby town’s council voted to ban it from using council land.

The council’s decision came after three people involved in the event were convicted of illegal hunting in March this year after two birdwatchers filmed a fox being killed by their hounds.

According to a social media post seen by The Morning Advertiser,​ which has since been deleted, the King William Inn expressed that they were “immensely proud” to announce the news – stating that they had worked with the “support and goodwill of many Bawtry retailers” in making the decision.

The pub added: “It should be made clear that the decision to ban the hunt from council land is not one towards which the retailers of Bawtry have contributed.”

However, since announcing their intention to support the event, the pub has received several death threats by both phone and social media from groups who interpreted the pub's Facebook posts as intention to host a hunt on the pub's land. 

Joe Harper, the licensee of the King William Inn, told The Morning Advertiser​: "We've got a private mobile number that was on the site for a job advert - they've got that and put it all over social media. My partner's had to turn her phone off because she was getting phone calls at 3.00am, abusive texts and voicemails."

"Then yesterday we had about 35 abusive phone calls to our manager. We've had bogus bookings, so we've now got to take deposits for bookings for the rest of the year."

Providing food and drink

Harper explained that the pub had agreed to play the role of a social host - supplying food and drink - rather than allowing a hunt to take place on pub owned land. He commented​"Scaftworth is a privately owned estate. We're leasehold tennants of the pub, and our landlord - the owners of the village - are involved with the hunt. They stepped in when Bawtry town council refused to allow them to meet in Bawtry and agreed to host the meet in Scaftworth. They're meeting on some farmland a few hundred yards away from the pub.

"After that decision had been made, our landlord and some of the members of the hunt had a meeting at the pub and asked us if we would be happy to open as normal and provide some food and drink.

"Our initial post was to promote that we were happy to play host to a social event. It then seemed that was interpreted that we ourselves had decided to have the hunt on our land, which isn't the case."

'It's not about promoting illegal fox hunting'

Having commented in Lincolnshire Live​ that he and the pub were "strongly against illegal activity", Harper told The Morning Advertiser​: "We made it quite clear to the hunt when we had our meeting that we wouldn't be supportive of them if they couldn't guarantee to us that they weren't going hunting.

"It's come directly from the senior hunt staff that they are not bothered about hunting that day - they're going out for a little bit of a ride to exercise the hounds. They appreciate that all eyes are on them and they're in last chance saloon.

"From their point of view the day is about positive publicity. It's about getting people to meet the hounds, meet the horses - it's not about promoting illegal fox hunting."

With the help of Notts Police, the event is set to go ahead as planned despite the threats made against the King William Inn and its staff. 

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