Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Yorkshire Post

A huntsman pursued foxes across Exmoor in "wilful disregard" of the Hunting Act, a court was told yesterday.

Exmoor Foxhounds huntsman Tony Wright, 52, appeared in court in a private prosecution brought by the League Against Cruel Sports.

Wright, of Exmoor Kennels, Simonsbath, Exmoor, pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing to hunting a fox on April 29 last year contrary to the Hunting Act 2004.

It is the first prosecution in England relating to a fox or stag hunt to be brought under the Act.

Prosecuting for the league, Richard Furlong told district judge Paul Farmer, sitting at Barnstaple Magistrates' Court, Devon: "This is not about whether the Act is right or wrong or whether it is fair. It remains the law of England and Wales and he has broken that law."

Mr Furlong alleged Wright, an employee of Exmoor Foxhounds, hunted two foxes with hounds in circumstances which were in "clear breach" of the Act. Save for the fact only two hounds were used, his activities appeared to be "traditional hunting", said Mr Furlong.

The court watched a video of the day's activities made by the league's education and sanctuaries officer, Edmund Shepherd.

Wright had two defences available to him which had to be proved on the balance of probabilities – that what took place was lawful within terms of exemption within the Act or that he reasonably believed he was engaged in exempt hunting.

"We say from his conduct on that day you can be sure on the balance of probabilities, and even beyond a reasonable doubt, what Anthony Wright did was unlawful and he knew it was unlawful," Mr Furlong told the judge.

When the hounds found foxes what took place was neither stalking nor flushing them out of cover – the terms used in the Act to create the exemption.

What happened was a "prolonged period of pursuit" of the foxes by hounds in Mr Wright's charge which the league said was hunting within the Act and not covered by the exemption.

Mr Furlong said no reasonable steps were taken to have the foxes shot dead as soon as possible by a competent person – which was really the whole basis of exempt hunting. There was a man on a quad bike with a gun bag slung over his back, but at no stage was he seen to produce any gun. And at the time the hounds were pursuing the foxes he was not in any position to shoot them.

Mr Furlong said that while hunting the second fox Wright was encouraging the hounds in their pursuit with staccato horn calls traditionally used to "egg on" hounds, not call them off.

He said: "The object of the meet that day, and indeed the eventual outcome of the meet, was for Mr Wright to provide a traditional spectacle for paying customers."
The trial continues.

Read More Here

No comments: