Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hunt Lobby Finds Support in the Front of a Black Cab

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hunt Lobby Finds Support in the Front of a Black Cab

Article excerpt


MIKE SMITH is a surprise for some of the people at the Countryside Alliance. But as one of London's black cab drivers he epitomises the broad church the movement has come to be.

When they learn what he does for a living, "it does take them back a bit," he said. "They find it a bit unusual.

They certainly find it unusual that I'm so passionate about hunting," said the 57-year-old former company director who gave up the executive life to drive a cab 15 years ago.

So passionate is Mr Smith that his cab will be at the disposal of any of the alliance members when they arrive on 18 March for the planned protest march.

He said: "I never charge anyone who I take to the alliance headquarters and I've told them I'm available to pick up anyone at any station in London who wants to go on the march for no charge."

When he talks of hunting it is not hunting to hounds but shooting with his three terriers and a lurcher on farms around the Essex-Hertfordshire border where he lives.

His farmer neighbours use him as an unofficial pest controller and he gets out as much as he can to shoot rabbits, foxes, pigeons and crows.

Surprisingly, for a man of strong opinions about animal rights supporters and their tactics, "antis" would get a space in his cab as well, although they might find themselves in for more than just the traditional "exchange of opinions" for which London's cabbies are famous.

He said: "I would attempt to explain my thoughts and feelings as politely as they would allow me. I would treat them with the same respect as I treat any fare."

Because, he says, the two sides do have common ground. "We both respect animals. None of us wants to see cruelty to them. I don't want to see it any more than they do. But you have to be logical about this. …

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