Thursday, June 07, 2007


Confusion over the Hunting Act has increased after the huntsman and whipper-in of the Quantocks Staghounds were today found guilty of illegal hunting in the second case brought against a hunt.

Richard Down and Adrian Pillivant, along with many other members of the Quantock Staghounds, gave evidence that they had been flushing deer to concealed guns on 16th February 2006, as they thought the law allowed. Six deer were shot dead. But the district judge found that their hunting was not 'exempt', and that their belief that their hunting was exempt was not 'reasonable'.

Since the Hunting Act came into force the Quantock Staghounds have acted entirely responsibly. They consulted legal experts, the hunting authorities and the police. This judgement contrasts with all their interpretations of the Act.

On the day in question they hunted with two hounds, as stipulated by the Act, and ensured that there were experienced guns in place to shoot the deer they flushed as soon as possible. They shot six deer. If this is not flushing to guns I don't know what is.

In his evidence Professor Patrick Bateson of Cambridge University described the law as "imprecise". If it is not clear to him what the law means then it is ridiculous to suggest that hunts should understand it in exactly the same way as the courts.

In the end there is one simple solution to this mess which will end all the confusion, and the waste of police and court resources. The Hunting Act is a bad law and needs to be got rid of.

The Quantock Staghounds are consulting their legal team and are likely to appeal this judgement. The Countryside Alliance and the Council of Hunting Associations have said that they will pay each man's fine of £500 and £1000 costs, and will also underwrite the cost of any appeal.

The Quantocks remain the frontline of the fight against the Hunting Act, and all donations to the appeal fund would be welcomed. Please send donations to the Appeal Fund c/o the Countryside Alliance at the Old Town Hall, 367 Kennington Road, London SE11 4PT.

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