The hunts are still at it: Lush joins the campaign against Hunting Act 2004 repeal
Global cosmetics icon Lush has joined forces with animal welfare charities and campaign groups to lobby MPs against repealing the Hunting Act 2004 this week.
Lush’s business ethos is built around minimising the environmental effects across its operational processes, and is also active in raising awareness of human rights issues and animal protection, using its high profile as a platform to reach a worldwide audience.
Lush’s support in the most recent development to the bloodsports debate reflects its longstanding interest and controversial investment in opposing hunting. The company has visibly supported the Hunt Saboteurs’ Association (HSA), raising more than £50,000 for the group through its The Hunts Are Still At It campaign, with HSA-produced leaflets in store alongside postcards and a limited-edition Fabulous Mrs Fox bubble bar developed by Lush specifically to promote the cause. The product was available in store until Boxing Day last year to coincide with the traditional hunting meets. Lush’s website states that during this period:
“It was an extremely controversial campaign and people who were pro-hunting entered Lush stores and ruined displays of leaflets and Fabulous Mrs Fox bubble bars. Shop windows were also targets for acts of vandalism and some store staff were even intimidated by pro-hunt supporters.”
Lush’s anti-hunting advertising was banned in 2010 by the Advertising Standards Agency for misleading claims relating to the treatment of hounds and position of police in managing criminal behaviour.
The hunting debate has been an ongoing point of contention in British politics: attempts to end hunting were brought to parliament in 1949, but were unsuccessful. The Labour government elected in 1997 actively sought to reset the rural agenda, restructuring policy and introducing reforms to key institutions. The response to those changes drew severe criticism from rural groups and their dissent manifested in the rise of the Countryside Alliance, resulting in a substantial turnout in 2002 (Countryside March) in protest.
The Hunting Act 2004 was implemented in February 2005, and prevents hunting “wild mammals” (foxes, deer, hares and mink) with dogs. However, the act does not provide an outright ban, but changes the methods by which hunts take place.
Again having a deeply polarising effect, the act was received warmly by the HSA and many other animal rights and ecological groups which have continued to vigorously campaign using direct action (often with criminal outcomes) against hunts across the country.
Since 2004, more than 340 individuals have been convicted of illegal hunting, although the Countryside Alliance states that 97% of these offences relate to “casual” hunting or poaching, with few associated with organised hunts.
The parliamentary vote to repeal the Hunting Act 2004 takes place on Wednesday 15th July.