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Hunting Act conviction quashed

Image: Countryside Alliance

Countryside Alliance reports, "Exmoor Foxhounds Huntsman Tony Wright, the first person prosecuted under the Hunting Act, had his conviction overturned on appeal at Exeter Crown Court."

The Huntsman of the Exmoor Fox Hounds, Wright was found guilty in August last year at Barnstaple Magistrates Court after using two hounds to flush a fox which was shot. He believed this was allowed under the law, but discovered that the definition of “flushing” was far from being defined.

Judge Cottle, in concluding his judgment yesterday, said, "The experience of this case has led us to the conclusion that the relevant law is far from simple to interpret or to apply; it seems to us that any given set of facts may be susceptible to differing interpretations. The result is an unhappy state of affairs . . ."

Indeed, reading the judgement, which Countryside Alliance posted, would shake his or her head. Even the definition of hunting is open to debate. Fortunately, the definition of "is" retains its customary definition on this side of the Atlantic, as in "It is common ground that the burden is upon the Appellant [Mr Wright] under Section 4 to prove a reasonable belief that the hunting was exempt. . ."

Wright spent two years in two court cases to do so. He was in the fields of Exmoor to help farmers address the problem of foxes killing their lambs.

Update: We have just heard that the Countryside Alliance will be appealing to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the Hunting Act since on 28 November the Law Lords rejected the appeal of the Alliance and others against the Hunting Act under Human Rights and European Law.

The Lords were right at least in one detail. Why on earth should the Countryside Alliance trundle out European Law to protect British rights? EU laws should not be given priority over British laws.

More on this later.