Five senior backbenchers treated to grouse-hunting weekend
FIVE senior Tory MPs took part in a bloody “lads’ jolly” paid for by Britain’s biggest pro-shooting lobbying group, the Morning Star can reveal.
Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, was among the group taken on a hunting weekend by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Two more members of the committee’s executive, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Bill Wiggin, were also on the gruesome getaway, along with former attorney general Sir Edward Garnier and former environment committee member Mark Spencer.
Entries in the register of MPs’ interests shows the trigger-happy Tories were treated to “one day’s shooting and one night’s accommodation” by BASC.
The MPs were taken to the grade-II-listed Hoar Cross, which is described on its website as a “stately home retreat that pairs period style with modern luxury and attentive service.”
The total cost of the trip for BASC came to £3,860 — £772 for each MP.
Former Labour MP and animal rights campaigner Chris Williamson said it was clear that BASC was “providing hospitality to influence MPs.”
And it seems the group, which also spent thousands of pounds on an exhibition stand at last year’s Tory conference where delegates could enjoy a virtual shooting game, is having some success in its lobbying.
“At the same time as this Tory government is imposing austerity on the country, it has doubled subsidies for wealthy grouse moor owners,” Mr Williamson pointed out.
The Green Party has raised concerns during recent flooding over how managing land for grouse shooting prevents drainage, with devastating consequences for communities downstream.
And last night leader Natalie Bennett told the Star: “I wonder if during the Tory lads’ jolly the MPs took expert advice in these issues, or asked about the steps required to produce the number of grouse they were shooting?
“Managing the moors for intensive shooting is environmentally damaging and incompatible with a robust flood prevention programme.
“It is one of the reasons why the Green Party will continue to call for a ban on driven grouse shooting in the UK.”
The Star asked the MPs to comment on the criticism and come clean about how many animals they killed but did not receive a reply.
In December, the Star revealed how 1922 Committee executive member Simon Hart is being paid £30,000 a year to act as a consultant for the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance.