Rule of 6 Update “Exemptions”

Rule of 6 Update “Exemptions”

Special thanks to Surrey Hunt Monitors for clarifying rules via their lawyers and Granthan Against Bloodsports for their input

Our Lawyers have reviewed the new Statutory Instrument (2020 No. 986) and the advice given to hunts by the Hunting Office. The following is a summary of their conclusions.

Complete Exemption for the Rule of 6 Law
Trail Hunting

Trail hunts (Hunting Office) have taken it upon themselves to interpret these new rules as meaning they have exemption.

  • Sport Gatherings : The exemption allowed under “Sports Gathering”. Trail hunting cannot qualify as a sport and the MFHA are not listed on the government site as having an approved action plan.

Definition of a sport : A game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill in which an individual or team competes against another opponent or team according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job.

  • Trail hunting does not have an opponent therefore can not be classed as a sport.
  • Trail Hunting – Autumn hunting – Cub Hunting – Hound Exercise, are actually just appointed names of the same activity and are highly disputed as to their legality.
    (All made up names to disguise the real intent of illegally chasing and killing wild animals)
  • It does not have any rules or recognised rule book.
  • It is not regulated by an official sporting body.
  • There are no placings, prizes, awards, sporting point system or league.
  • There are no categories.
  • It is highly secretive and not open to members of the public.
  • It is an activity where hunts try to avoid being filmed and react violently to any person who tries to film them.
  • Hunts cannot control their staff, riders and followers’ abusive attacks on members of the public are common.
  • Also, the “sports gathering” exemption applies only to participants which would not include hunt foot followers, ground volunteers, terriermen or spectators.
  • Trail Hunting is not a recognised sport. It is not recognised by Sport England who are the body who operate the recognition process to establish which sports they may consider working with.
    When deciding whether to recognise a sport, the sports councils look to see if it meets the Council of Europe’s European Sports Charter 1993 definition of sport, and whether it is well established and organised within their jurisdiction

Therefore trail hunts should not be allowed to take advantage of “Sports Gathering” under any mentioned exemptions as they simply do not fulfill the criteria.

  • Horse Riding Rules : Government covid-19 Horse riding rules, specifically limits numbers to six riders. Also the “sports gathering” exemption applies only to participants which would not include hunts foot followers, terriermen or spectators.
  • Outdoor Activities : The exemption allowed under “Outdoor Activities” is argued by the Hunting Office to be applicable. But this category of exempt activities is limited to those for which a licence has to be granted by a public body so as to carry on the activity, or for any equipment used for the activity. “Trail hunts” do not require a licence from any public body.
    Hunts therefore cannot take advantage of this exemption either.
  • Hound Exercise : also referred to as “Cub hunting” & “Autumn hunting” by the hunts, cannot be exempt: how can exercising your dogs be a sport or require a licence!
  • Event Plan : Trail hunts claim to have a robust “Covid-19 Event Plan” in place, however, due to the very nature of hunting, it is impossible for hunts to do this or carry anywhere near adequate Risk Assessments.

    Why it is impossible for hunts to have a “Covid-19 Event Plan” in place.

    • Hunting is an activity that does not restrict itself to any one particular area, therefore hunts cannot conduct safety checks and assessments over miles of countryside, roads and public areas.
    • Hunts are unable (unwilling) to provide a route plan of a trail they claim to have laid and be following. Hunts also claim they do not know where this “imaginary” trail has been laid, they therefore, by their own admission, cannot pre-check the route for safety.
    • Because of the nature of horses being unpredictable and the hunt moving as one group entity, it is impossible to keep 2 metres apart.
    • Because the hunts do not know where the hounds may run and many accidents prove they have no control over their hounds, this often brings them into public areas and onto roads, which leads to interaction and conflict with members of the public.
    • This is also the time of year where hunts are “Fox Cub Hunting”, (or hounds exercise/autumn hunting as they now like to call it to make it sound more acceptable), this activity needs close interaction between hunt staff, riders, foot followers and terriermen.
    • Because of the volume of riders and their vehicles/horse boxes, participants usually have to cram park their vehicles, therefore impossible to social distance.
    • Because hunts jump “non-safety checked fences”, the accident/fall rate is very high, therefore interaction between many people is standard, also putting unnecessary pressure on NHS. It’s a high risk activity.
    • Because riding is a vigorous activity, riders are unable to wear any face protection.
    • A typical hunting day may contain 40+ riders, with additional hunt staff, grooms, terriermen, foot followers, marshals, supporters etc all gather en masse, it is delusional to believe they actually have a covid-19 safe event strategy in place with this amount of participants (riders) plus all the additional foot followers.

Limited Exemptions

The new law allows businesses to organise activities. Whether or not hunts are businesses depends on how they operate and would need to be assessed on an individual basis. A big factor to take into account is : Are hunts registered as a business ? According to Companies House, many hunts are not registered as a business and remain classed as a non-profit leisure club to avoid paying tax.
If a hunt is a business, it may be able to organise an activity at its premises which may include the kennels and on land owned by the hunt itself but not on land owned by others (including members of the hunt). It may also be allowed to organise an activity on “public outdoor space”. Public outdoor space includes highways, bridleways, national parks, crown land, and “open access land”. It does not include National Trust Land or private land.


If hunts are seen in groups of more than six on private land not belonging to the hunt itself (as opposed to being owned by one or more of the hunters or other friendly land-owners), this is an offence under the Covid Regulations. The offence should be photographed and reported to the Police on 101.

The current government has made no secret of their support for “Foxhunting” and it seems to have allowed the hunting office to make up their own minds whether they are exempt or not.
The Gov. website even linked themselves to the hunting office website which allowed the hunting office to become the official interpretation of the rules.

It will be interesting to see if the police have been influenced to turn a blind eye to hunts breaking Covid-19 rules.
Police failures to ensure the rules are fairly applied to all should be carefully noted and reported to “PSD”, “Independent Office for Police Conduct” & “PCC” if any biased impartial police behaviour or failures are noted regarding the policing of trail hunts.


The government has failed to ensure these new rules are clear and applied fairly to all. Maybe this was intentional?

As Angela Rayner MP pointed out, is this because the hunting fraternity donate large sums of money and gifts to many Tory MPs including the Prime Minister ?

Trail hunts are not exempt from the new “rule of 6” despite their false interpretation claims and should not be allowed to make a mockery of the rules and sacrifices by others.
The NPCC have been ill informed by the home office regarding these exemptions.

All photographic evidence of hunts breaking Covid-19 rules should be date stamped and the hunt master and hunting staff clearly shown on evidence not complying with rules and event plans.

The British public have made extraordinary sacrifices during this pandemic, hunts have made none. They continue to abuse the law and make a mockery of regulations. Hunts are arrogant enough to think they are above the law and answer to know one. They also think their “Country ways” are not subject to British law.


Regardless of hunting not coming under any exemption criteria, Cheshire Rural Crime Team confirmed they have been advised by the NPCC that the “Sports gathering” exemption applies to hunting. They also suggested that this directive came from the “Home Office”.

Reports are now coming in from all over the country of hunts abusing Covid-19 safety regulations.
Hunts have never been able to follow the law and regulations, so we did not expect anything different this time.

Stag hunt breaks Covid rules

Other links :


NPCC Central Office

Martin Hewitt

IOPC Contact

APCC contact

HMIC Contact

Home Office Contact

Priti Patel Contact

Nick Thomas Symonds Contact

Kit Malthouse Contact

Sarah Jones Contact

Robert Buckland Contact

David Lammy Contact

Angela Rayner Contact


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