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|“||I am glad. I am glad my right honorable and gallant colleague is not attempting to ascribe any kind of blame to the Ministry of Defence. And indeed, the member for Keswick is right in demanding quick and decisive action. Accordingly, the Ministry has taken the following steps. Two companies of the third battalion of the parachute regiment are at this moment on their way to the Lake District. Tomorrow they will begin an intensive search of the most likely areas, and they will continue until the dogs are found and destroyed.||„|
|~ William Harbottle's speech.|
William Harbottle, also known as Hot Bottle Bill, is the secondary antagonist of Richard Adams' 1977 novel The Plague Dogs, and its 1982 animated film adaptation. He is the Secretary of State who had A.R.S.E. set up in Lawson Park and wants to have Rowf and Snitter killed, so the public wouldn't find out about them being test animals and to prevent the Research Station from being disclosed.
He was voiced by the late William Lucas in the film.
William Harbottle is an egotistical, greedy, cruel, and self-serving politician who only cares about money. The only reason he wanted to kill Rowf and Snitter was so the public wouldn't find out about them being test animals and to prevent the Research Station from being disclosed, rather than to keep the public safe. Despite knowing that the dogs couldn't have gotten infected by the bubonic plague, he and his civil servants went on to announce that they may have gotten it, even though Dr. Boycott said it was impossible. This is because if the media can discredit the lab, it could embarrass the Secretary of State.
According to Major Awdry, he saw the army's operation to kill the dogs primarily as a publicity stunt for his own benefit. When he and his senior civil servant, the Under Secretary arrive at the Drigg Nature Reserve to have the dogs shot after they were rescued from sea, he was told by Major Awdry that Alan Wood was their lawful owner. Despite this, he still ordered Awdry to shoot the dogs and refused to leave when he was told by Major Rose that it's illegal to kill animals in his reserve until Digby Driver threatened to give him a bad reputation.
After a political battle at Lawson Park, the Research Station had been approved and constructed, where Dr. Boycott and other scientists perform thousands of torturous experiments on animals. Afterwards, he planned on constructing another government project in a national park.
Five years later, two dogs named Rowf and Snitter escape the laboratory and roam the countryside in search of a master until they are forced to kill sheep and other livestock in order to survive in the wild with the help of the Tod. After Snitter accidentally killed a Jewish businessman named David Ephraim, the Government Department sends Digby Driver to investigate.
When the Dawsons caught Snitter, they phone the police and Stephen Powell heads out to retrieve him. However, the Tod comes and helps Snitter escape before the police could capture him. Digby Driver comes by and takes Powell back to the Research Station as he discusses about Dr. Goodner's defence work on bubonic plague. Driver later blackmails Goodner and he publishes a headline about Rowf and Snitter carrying the plague, causing mass hysteria in the public.
The Under Secretary and the Assistant Secretary later arrange a meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary and try to come up with a plan to advise the public that there is no way the dogs could have gotten infected. The Under Secretary then decides that he'll take matters in his own hands after hearing that the Assistant Secretary has departed for Lawson Park.
When Geoffrey Westcott tries to kill the dogs for raiding his groceries, he heads to the Dow Crag and only manages to shoot off Rowf's collar as he falls to his death. His corpse is devoured by the two starving dogs and his body was found. The next day, Hot Bottle Bill and his civil servants meet at the House of Commons for parliamentary debates. Harbottle informs the civil servants about Westcott's death and announces that the army is out to find and kill the two dogs.
The next day, while the army is searching for the dogs, they learn that the dogs are headed to Ravenglass on a train and a reporter named William Williamson interviews with Major Awdry about his thoughts about the dogs. Harbottle arrives in his limousine and Williamson chats with him as he wishes him good hunting to kill the two dogs. Major Awdry and his army then head over to Ravenglass to locate the dogs. Rowf and Snitter arrive at the Irish Sea and the army corners them. Snitter claims to see an island across the sea and heads out to sea with Rowf following him. Meanwhile, Digby Driver finds out about the truth behind Ann Moss' lies about Snitter's disappearance and helps Alan Wood locate the dogs when they arrive at the Drigg Nature Reserve.
The two dogs are rescued by two real-life naturalists named Peter Scott and Ronald Lockley and they arrive at the nature reserve as the dogs are reunited with Wood. Harbottle and the Under Secretary arrive in their limousine and they greet Wood. Harbottle asks Major Awdry to shoot the dogs, but Awdry informs him that Wood is their lawful owner. Although he is surprised to hear this, he insists on shooting the dogs and Major Awdry informs him that he will tell his batalion commander about it. However, the warden of the nature reserve, Major Rose informs Harbottle that it's illegal to kill animals in his reserve and orders him to leave. Harbottle refuses to do so until Digby Driver threatens to give him a bad reputation. Harbottle retreats and orders the Under Secretary to deal with the matter. However, Rowf chases him away and he gets back into the limousine and they drive off as Driver takes pictures of them. Driver states that he will make Harbottle an embarrassment and that he will look sillier than Boycott as he helps Wood on the way.
- Hot Bottle Bill is the Greater-Scope Villain of the story, as he is the one who was responsible for having A.R.S.E. set up in a national park and therefore, he drives the plot.