Monday, Jun. 3, 2024

British Judge Dismisses Last Outstanding Case For Illegal Hunting

On Sept. 17, the case brought by the Crown Prosecution Service against John Harrison, huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds, collapsed. The charges were in relation to the illegal hunting of foxes in November 2008.

Although employees of animal rights organizations had filmed the Lakeland foot pack and their huntsman out hunting on the open fell, the District Judge at Penrith Magistrates Court ruled that there was no evidence that, “an identifiable mammal had been pursued at any stage.”

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On Sept. 17, the case brought by the Crown Prosecution Service against John Harrison, huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds, collapsed. The charges were in relation to the illegal hunting of foxes in November 2008.

Although employees of animal rights organizations had filmed the Lakeland foot pack and their huntsman out hunting on the open fell, the District Judge at Penrith Magistrates Court ruled that there was no evidence that, “an identifiable mammal had been pursued at any stage.”

His dismissal of the case came as a huge relief to the Ullswater huntsman, who afterward spoke of his regret that so much time and taxpayers’ money had been squandered on the case. He also confirmed that his hunt will be hunting within the law again this coming season and added, “We are looking forward to the repeal of the Hunting Act so that we can resume hunting free from this terrible legislation.”

There are currently no outstanding prosecutions against any member of the hunting community for the first time since 2005, when Tony Wright (Exmoor Fox-hounds huntsman) faced an ultimately unsuccessful private prosecution brought by the League Against Cruel Sports. Since then only nine hunts have been prosecuted under the Hunting Act, resulting in three convictions.

When considered against the fact that hunting opponents have spent thousands of hours attempting to compile evidence of hunts breaking the law, and that combined there have been more than 40,000 hunting days since it came into force, it’s clear that the Act is not working.

After the dismissal of the Ullswater case, Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart said: “Defending this law is now impossible, as can be seen from the growing number of anti-hunting activists and MPs who are conceding that the law doesn’t work. It’s failed at every level, and there can be no reason for allowing such a bad law to remain on the Statute Book. Repealing the Hunting Act would be a public service and one that the next government must address as soon as it possibly can.”

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Recent comments on a national radio broadcast demonstrate that politicians at the highest levels have reached the same conclusion.

“Personally, I think the hunting ban has been a farce,” said David Cameron, leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom. “I don’t think it works; I think it wastes a huge amount of police time, and I think we should have a free vote in the House of Commons to see if we want to continue with it. That is what democracy is all about.”

The week of Oct. 5 saw the reintroduction of the popular Hunting Newcomers Week, during which thousands of people were encouraged to hunt for the first time.

According to Horse & Hound, some 5,000 riders took up their local hunt’s offer of a free day. Horse & Hound pronounced hunting to be stronger than ever and published the results of their survey in which 93 percent of responding hunts revealed they now had equal or more subscribers than prior to the Hunting Act becoming law, with 63 percent expecting a further increase in membership should the ban be repealed.

The hunting community remains optimistic that the repeal will take place provided there’s a change of government at the next general election.

With traditional opening meets underway on Nov. 7, Britain has experienced dry and difficult scenting this autumn, with unusually hard ground causing problems in stables and kennels. However, the long overdue arrival of wet weather should soften the ground and improve scent just in time for the start of the season proper.

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