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Old 26th December 2019, 05:48 AM   #1
LondonJohn
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Well-known British barrister jokes on Twitter about beating a trapped fox to death

Well-known British barrister Jolyon Maugham tweeted this morning (on @JolyonMaugham), in an apparent attempt at humour, about having battered to death a fox that was trapped in a wire fence in his garden (he keeps chickens apparently, which is obviously also relevant to this story). His tweet read:

"Already this morning I have killed a fox with a baseball bat. How's your Boxing Day going?"

Within minutes of him posting the tweet, Twitter lit up with a mixture of requests for clarification and outrage. In an attempt to justify his actions (and his tweet), Maugham said it was probably what the RSPCA (the England/Wales charity which protects animals) would have done had he called them.

But it's certainly NOT what the RSPCA (nor any vet) would have done in the circumstances. And on the face of it, it appears that Maugham broke the law.

So there's a double level of astonishment here: firstly that Maugham - one of the most high-profile legal figures in the country - should have judged that his actions in beating the fox to death were appropriate and legal, and secondly that he judged that his actions were worth of documenting in a jocular tweet.

The RSPCA has already said that it's launched an investigation.
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Old 26th December 2019, 06:59 AM   #2
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Clubbing a fox to death can get you up to six months in prison. I hope they throw the book at him.
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Old 26th December 2019, 07:09 AM   #3
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At the very least, if he does get prosecuted and convicted, I hope the tweets* are taken into consideration as aggravating circumstances.


* In addition to that initial tweet, he's responded to various of the reactions to it with "justification" tweets of increasingly poor judgement. Seems to me he needs some decent legal advice (and the first piece of advice should be to quit Twitter for at least several days....)
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Old 26th December 2019, 07:38 AM   #4
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Unless it's an emergency, you should probably call the police or wildlife service and ask what you should do, rather than just reaching for the shovel or bat and going for the kill.

Think before you kill something bigger than a fly.

Edit: he said something about killing and eating rabbits, so presumably he turned the fox into food instead of throwing away the body in the trash? At least then his action come off as more reasonable, but not nessecerily legal, rather than just completely indefensible.
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Old 26th December 2019, 07:40 AM   #5
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What a stupid arse.
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Old 26th December 2019, 07:41 AM   #6
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https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...box=1577365887
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Old 26th December 2019, 07:42 AM   #7
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I guess I'm missing a lot of context here.

Are foxes endangered in Britain or something?

ETA: Never mind, misread the article. For some reason my brain was thinking the fox was severely injured by being trapped in the chicken wire.
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Old 26th December 2019, 07:49 AM   #8
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Foxes aren't nice to chickens. Chicken farmers aren't nice to foxes. Animal rights nerds aren't nice to chicken farmers. Now if we can arrange for the chickens to be mean to the animal rights nerds, it would be the circle of the life.

Actually, if we could arrange for the foxes to go after the animal rights nerds, that would solve everyone's problems. Except the nerds, but what are they going to do? Be mean to the foxes?
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Old 26th December 2019, 08:34 AM   #9
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My ex keeps chickens in a small way, as do lots of people in the UK as long as they've got a bit of garden, and foxes can be a problem.

But the solution is to protect the chickens better with wire fencing and lockable hutches like Eglus (https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_keeping/), enabling the chicken owner to be humane towards wildlife.
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Old 26th December 2019, 08:44 AM   #10
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I guess it's just the American in me. Killing a predator that gets near your animals is (in most circumstances) nothing really to get worked up about. It might not have been the ideal course of action from the scenario he presented, but it's not outrage worthy as it's been presented here.

I feel like I'm missing some cultural context here.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I guess it's just the American in me. Killing a predator that gets near your animals is (in most circumstances) nothing really to get worked up about. It might not have been the ideal course of action from the scenario he presented, but it's not outrage worthy as it's been presented here.

I feel like I'm missing some cultural context here.
I think itís that putting down animals on an American ranch is normally assumed to involve a quick shot. You donít expect olí yella to be taken out back and bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:06 AM   #12
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The objections to this incident seem to be firmly rooted in an appeal to emotion.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
I think it’s that putting down animals on an American ranch is normally assumed to involve a quick shot. You don’t expect ol’ yella to be taken out back and bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat.
Yeah but that's America. You're issued a fully automatic assault rifle when you get your social security number over here and we use them for everything from keeping the King of England out of our face to opening our beer cans.

I can't imagine everyone who has a chicken coop has a gun in England.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:08 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I guess it's just the American in me. Killing a predator that gets near your animals is (in most circumstances) nothing really to get worked up about. It might not have been the ideal course of action from the scenario he presented, but it's not outrage worthy as it's been presented here.

I feel like I'm missing some cultural context here.
It's illegal is the context you're missing. Shooting a fox that gets near the henhouse is one thing, bludgeoning it to death when it's entangled in netting and no threat to either hens or people is another.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:13 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Yeah but that's America. You're issued a fully automatic assault rifle when you get your social security number over here and we use them for everything from keeping the King of England out of our face to opening our beer cans.

I can't imagine everyone who has a chicken coop has a gun in England.
Thatís why they should call the police and wait a couple of weeks for a patrol to come round and remove the fox.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:13 AM   #16
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I think there are a couple of points where our cross-pond sensibilities and cultures may differ.

We don't have many predators in the UK. Farmers are permitted to shoot predators attacking stock (assuming their guns are held legally) which includes foxes, and also dogs worrying sheep. But even when destroying predators, farmers and gamekeepers are required to be humane - a single shot is permissible, a leg-trap followed by a delayed death isn't. A beating with a baseball bat probably isn't either, even if the animal dies instantly. Most of our wildlife is protected by law, with exceptions only in certain circumstances.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildli...yside_Act_1981 I've linked to Wiki as the gov.uk page with the actual legislation isn't loading for me (probably hundreds of people trying to find which section Mr Maugham has allegedly breached)

But in cities and urban areas foxes aren't really seen as predators or vermin the way they are in the country. Urban foxes are relatively tame and some people feed them at their kitchen doors so they don't see humans as dangerous. The foxes will take chickens if they can, so those people with backyard chickens need to use fox-proof fencing and hutches. and not fencing that anything could get tangled up in as Mr Maugham seems to have had.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:16 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The objections to this incident seem to be firmly rooted in an appeal to emotion.
It's called human decency. Look the concept up some time.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:18 AM   #18
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I'm thinking urban foxes are just as much pests and vermin as feral cats. This fox was literally getting at henhouse. That's classic pest/vermin behavior, and classic fox-as-pest behavior.

Also I haven't read all the tweets, but everybody seems to be using language that assumes the most brutal possible scenario. That's the appeal to emotion I'm talking about.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:18 AM   #19
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Any so-called "human being" who does something like this deserves to have the same thing done to them.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:19 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Thatís why they should call the police and wait a couple of weeks for a patrol to come round and remove the fox.
The police wouldn't remove the fox (but if they would, it wouldn't be "a couple of weeks").
They should call the RSPCA and get instant advice on what to do next - either how to deal with the situation themselves or be sent an RSPCA officer or vet.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:20 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by ChristianProgressive View Post
It's called human decency. Look the concept up some time.
That escalated quickly. Do you think we could have a dispassionate discussion about the challenges of animal husbandry? O
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:21 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm thinking urban foxes are just as much pests and vermin as feral cats. This fox was literally getting at henhouse. That's classic pest/vermin behavior, and classic fox-as-pest behavior.

Also I haven't read all the tweets, but everybody seems to be using language that assumes the most brutal possible scenario. That's the appeal to emotion I'm talking about.
Pests and vermin are still required by law to be destroyed in a humane way, if destroyed at all.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:22 AM   #23
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I guess I just don't, inherently, see a quick wack with a baseball bat as "inhumane" all other factors being equal, again especially since most people aren't going to have a firearm available.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:49 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I guess I just don't, inherently, see a quick wack with a baseball bat as "inhumane" all other factors being equal, again especially since most people aren't going to have a firearm available.
How many times?

It. Is. Illegal.

A senior politician and QC broke the law and bragged about it on twitter.
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Old 26th December 2019, 09:51 AM   #25
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Red face

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm thinking urban foxes are just as much pests and vermin as feral cats. This fox was literally getting at henhouse. That's classic pest/vermin behavior, and classic fox-as-pest behavior.

Also I haven't read all the tweets, but everybody seems to be using language that assumes the most brutal possible scenario. That's the appeal to emotion I'm talking about.
Those of us assuming the most brutal scenario are probably the same people who read Maugham's sickeningly smug tweets this morning. I think he expected congratulations for being such a manly man.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:11 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
How many times?

It. Is. Illegal.

A senior politician and QC broke the law and bragged about it on twitter.
It's a silly law and he should have kept his mouth shut.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:13 AM   #27
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Out in the countryside -- any countryside-- there's a piece of folk wisdom about protected species: shoot, shovel, and shut up.

This country boy doesn't approve BUT he can see why practical considerations on the farm make it happen.

Bragging, literally to the world, about your ****** little deed is not an intelligent thing to do.

Neither is it decent.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:14 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
Those of us assuming the most brutal scenario are probably the same people who read Maugham's sickeningly smug tweets this morning. I think he expected congratulations for being such a manly man.
You're making assumptions based on your personal bias and your own emotional reaction to what was said.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:15 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
Out in the countryside -- any countryside-- there's a piece of folk wisdom about protected species: shoot, shovel, and shut up.

This country boy doesn't approve BUT he can see why practical considerations on the farm make it happen.

Bragging, literally to the world, about your ****** little deed is not an intelligent thing to do.

Neither is it decent.
On this we agree
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:18 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
Those of us assuming the most brutal scenario are probably the same people who read Maugham's sickeningly smug tweets this morning. I think he expected congratulations for being such a manly man.
Well, I don't know what the rest of his twitter feed is like (nor do I propose to waste my time by looking), but there's not enough in the tweet quoted in OP for me to decide the tone of it. I certainly don't see it as smug or even necessarily intended to be humorous; it can be read simply as a wry observation.

That said, he was wrong in killing the fox the way he did, and then even more stupid to tweet about it (a comment which sadly applies to a large proportion of what you find on Twitter).

One aspect I haven't seen touched on yet is the class aspect; fox hunting was much beloved by the upper classes, and there's even been talk of the Tories making it legal again. Someone from the upper classes talking about killing foxes is bound to cause some class-based reaction.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:19 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
How many times?

It. Is. Illegal.

A senior politician and QC broke the law and bragged about it on twitter.
He's jumped the gun, I'm sure if he waited a little bit he'd have been able to set a pack of dogs on the fox to tear it limb from limb.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:21 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
Those of us assuming the most brutal scenario are probably the same people who read Maugham's sickeningly smug tweets this morning. I think he expected congratulations for being such a manly man.
Total fool talking abut it. I don't know the actual circumstances but I assume you can kill a fox very quickly and humanely with a baseball bat, if you know how to do it.

And I don't know about UK laws (and actually also not of those of my own country) regarding fox killing. Would it have been legal if he had shot it?

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Old 26th December 2019, 10:25 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
He's jumped the gun, I'm sure if he waited a little bit he'd have been able to set a pack of dogs on the fox to tear it limb from limb.
Of course he'd have had to change into fancy dress first.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:33 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
Of course he'd have had to change into fancy dress first.
Do you mean cosplay or formal wear?
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:39 AM   #35
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Brits, and especially the English, dislike cruelty to animals. It's one of the best things about them.

And they'll bring the wrath of god down on anybody who's guilty of it. That's another good thing about them.

QC is he? And a nupper clahss twit? We have close equivalents over here, and in a case like this we'd arrest him. Or so I hope.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:39 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Total fool talking abut it. I don't know the actual circumstances but I assume you can kill a fox very quickly and humanely with a baseball bat, if you know how to do it.

And I don't know about UK laws (and actually also not of those of my own country) regarding fox killing. Would it have been legal if he had shot it?

Hans
I would also hope the police will look into him having such a bat to use as a weapon.....



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Old 26th December 2019, 10:56 AM   #37
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Kind of sounds a bit dickish if you ask me but living in the country periodically I've seen and heard much worse.

I just don't understand why someone would want to do it themselves. If I'm understanding it correctly the fox was entangled so he wasn't an active threat at all. Why would you WANT to bludgeon the fox? It's just not something I would want to do. As was mentioned, it's standard fox behavior. Free him, let him go, protect your chickens, everyone's happy.
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Old 26th December 2019, 10:59 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Total fool talking abut it. I don't know the actual circumstances but I assume you can kill a fox very quickly and humanely with a baseball bat, if you know how to do it.

And I don't know about UK laws (and actually also not of those of my own country) regarding fox killing. Would it have been legal if he had shot it?

Hans
Not a farmer so going from memory, but iirc, foxes are regarded as vermin and can be killed humanely, particularly if threatening livestock. Hunting them with dogs has been outlawed but if 'former' fox hunts take their digs out for a drag hunt and they 'accidentally' discover and kill a fox instead they are very unlikely to face any consequences. IMHO, if the fox was caught in netting that was, for example, protecting fruit bushes from birds then this would be illegal, however if, as seems to be the case here, the netting was part of the chicken run then unpleasant or not this will probably be legal. The argument will be that the fox could not be released without risk to either the person attempting to release it or the chance it would escape into the chicken run. Dispatching the fox with a (preferably single) blow to the head or back of the neck would probably pass muster as humane, multiple blows to the body would not and would be illegal unless it was in defence against an animal presenting an immediate threat (so not caught up in a net).

For what it's worth I read his tweet as "I'm having a bad start to the day, how's yours" rather than triumphal, but it could be taken either way.
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Old 26th December 2019, 11:01 AM   #39
Agatha
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Thing is, this idiot doesn't live in the country. He lives in London, where the foxes are as tame as the average house cat. If he'd detangled it from the fence, called a vet for its wounds and let them deal with it, (and mended his fence) he'd be being lauded as a hero.
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Old 26th December 2019, 11:05 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Agatha View Post
Thing is, this idiot doesn't live in the country. He lives in London, where the foxes are as tame as the average house cat. If he'd detangled it from the fence, called a vet for its wounds and let them deal with it, (and mended his fence) he'd be being lauded as a hero.
Outdoor cats are a scourge on local wildlife, even in suburban and urban areas. Feral cats likewise.

Urban foxes are not tame. They're not house pets. They're feral predators just like their country counterparts.

A fox raiding a chicken coop doesn't magically become not a pest, just because the coop happens to be within the city limits.
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