THE STORMING of the House of Commons last September in protest over the Hunting Bill was planned and carried out by rogue SAS soldiers, it has been alleged.
Several of the pro-hunt supporters who broke into parliament during the debate on the bill were former members of the Special Forces regiment. Some are said to have seen frontline action "very recently" and at least one of the group is still a member of an SAS reserve squadron. The men cannot be identified for reasons of national security.
Eight men were arrested following the incident — in which five of them were shown live on television confronting Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs minister, and berating MPs.
The stunt was initially thought to be the work of amateur protesters who made a mockery of lax security. It led to a major safety review and the appointment of a new parliamentary security chief from MI5. The police, who are understood to have spent more than £1m investigating the incident, have now uncovered the special forces backgrounds of the protesters.
One friend of the men said: "It just shows how passionately people feel about this issue that men who were prepared to sacrifice everything for their country, and have put themselves in very difficult situations, are prepared to go to these lengths."
One of the SAS men who took part in the protest declined to comment on his background when questioned about his SAS links by a national newspaper. "It’s not something I want to discuss, and it will not be mentioned in court," he said.
There was condemnation of the police tactic of releasing the information about the men’s SAS background, as this could put them in danger of attack from paramilitary organisations.
The eight, who include rock star Brian Ferry’s son Otis, 22, who hunts with the Shropshire Hunt were charged with disorderly conduct and will appear at London’s Bow Street magistrates’ court on January 18. All are pleading not guilty and claim the charges are politically motivated.