Secret festival organisers deny kidnapping trespassers

THE organisers of Huntingdonshire’s biggest music and arts festival have denied breaching the human rights of trespassers by dropping them off in the car park of a 24-hour supermarket.

An organisation calling itself Johnsons & Associates, giving an address at a terraced house in Hastings, East Sussex, and claiming to have been “protecting young people for over 100 years”, accused the organisers of the four-day Secret Garden Party of “kidnapping and false imprisonment”.

In a closely-typed three-page letter, also copied to Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire District Council’s licensing department and the police, ‘Johnsons & Associates’ also claim that the practice of taking trespassers beyond the perimeter calls the organisers’ insurance cover into question.

The letter, sent to the Hon Freddie Fellowes, whose parents, Lord and Lady de Ramsey, own Abbots Ripton Hall in the grounds of which the festival is held each year, claims the transport arrangements breached the organisers’ own safety rules, which required people to be allowed out of vehicles at the perimeter.

Mr Fellowes told The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday) that the approach, with its implied threat of legal proceedings, was disproportionate.

“Whatever this is about, it’s not about human rights,” he said. “Ideally, we would have liked to have sat down with whoever this is and talked about it.”

He denied that trespassers were forced to travel to the Tesco supermarket car park in Abbots Ripton Road, Huntingdon, against their will.

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“People were given the option to get out [at the perimeter]. But we consider it a lot safer to take them somewhere where there are telephones, cash points and food than leaving them on the edge of an unlit road in the middle of nowhere. The police were aware of that.

“We have a responsibility to our public and to local people,” he added.

He said he though the complaint might be connected to a previous allegation made against the festival’s security contractors. The complaint was dismissed after a police investigation.

“It’s the only complaint of this kind in 10 years,” Mr Fellowes said.

INFORMATION: The Secret Garden Party will be held from Thursday July 19 to Sunday July 22 in the grounds of Abbots Ripton Hall. The event is licensed for up to 32,000 people this year.