Two recent articles on the subject:
British Ban on Hunting With Dogs Stands
LONDON â€” The image of Britons in scarlet coats galloping over fields as their dogs chase foxes is fixed in the popular imagination. But Britain’s highest court ruled Wednesday that laws banning the hunts must stand.
Hunters had appealed two bans: one passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2002 and another, enacted in 2004, applying to England and Wales. The laws banned using dogs to hunt mammals.
Hunting supporters argued that the laws violated the rights of people whose livelihoods depended on hunting.
But on Wednesday, the Law Lords â€” a committee of the House of Lords that acts as Britain’s highest court â€” dismissed the appeals.
The 2004 law banning hunting in England and Wales must “be taken to reflect the conscience of a majority of the nation,” Lord Bingham said in the unanimous ruling.
“The democratic process is liable to be subverted,” Bingham wrote, if hunting supporters achieve in court what they failed to achieve in Parliament.
The House of Commons forced the English and Welsh ban into law after the legislation was repeatedly defeated in the House of Lords.
In rejecting the associated appeal against the Scottish ban, Lord Hope wrote that “there was adequate factual information to entitle the Scottish Parliament to conclude that fox hunting inflicted pain on the fox,” and was therefore cruel.
Opponents of hunting say the fox dies an excruciating death as it is ripped apart by the pack of dogs.
But the Countryside Alliance, a group of hunting advocates, argues that between 6,000 and 8,000 people eventually will lose their jobs because of the ban â€” and many will also lose their homes.
In 2004, hunt supporters organized marches against the legislation, and eight hunt supporters invaded the House of Commons in 2004 to protest.
Under the Hunting Act, dogs can be used to chase a fox into open ground but not to harm it. Instead, the fox can be shot. Because of that, the legislation has not entirely banned the colorful spectacle of horse-mounted hunters setting out in pursuit of game.
Via the Torygraph:
Hunting ban ‘lies in tatters’ unenforceable’
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Last Updated: 12:04am GMT 02/12/2007
The ban on hunting has been left in tatters after a judge suggested it was virtually impossible to bring a conviction against those accused of breaking the law.
Legislation introduced in 2005 to outlaw hunting with dogs is too difficult “to interpret or apply” said Judge Graham Cottle, as he upheld an appeal from the first huntsman to be convicted of breaching the Act.
The pro-hunt lobby claims that the verdict has set a significant precedent that proves that the law is unenforceable.
Tony Wright, 53, of the Exmoor Foxhounds, was successful in his defence that he had not broken the law despite being filmed twice in 2005 apparently chasing a fox with dogs.
While the Hunting Act made it illegal to hunt with dogs, hounds can still be used to follow a fox’s scent and to flush it out of its hiding place.
To remain within the law, huntsmen are required to shoot the fox as soon as possible once it has broken cover.However, crucially, the Act does not specify time or distance limits for how long the animal may be chased before it is shot.
Huntsmen argue that the line between what constitutes hunting and chasing the fox is unclear. The Crown Prosecution Service, which has started other cases against huntsmen, had accused Mr Wright of hunting two foxes with two hounds on Exmoor in circumstances which were in “clear breach” of the law.
However, Judge Cottle said he was satisfied that Mr Wright had done his best to behave in compliance with the Act.
Mr Wright had situated a marksman on a quad bike close to where the fox was hiding so that it would be shot as soon as possible after being flushed out. However, he was forced to give chase when the fox managed to flee. Judge Cottle said: “This case has led us to the conclusion that the relevant law is far from simple to interpret or 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 which leaves all those involved in a position of uncertainty.”
Stephen Lambert, the chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, said that the ruling was a significant victory for campaigners who want to see the law repealed. “This sets an important precedent that the burden of proof should be on the prosecution to show that the huntsmen are not keeping within the law,” he said.
“That is very difficult to prove as it’s a very complicated law that now lies in tatters.”
Paul Flynn, the MP for Newport West and a leading supporter of the Act, admitted that Parliament may have to strengthen the existing law.
“If there are defects or loopholes in the law, it needs amendments to sort it out,” he said.
“The hunting lobby are trying to frustrate what is the will of the public in wanting to see this gratuitously cruel activity outlawed.”
After the hearing, Mr Wright said: “I am delighted with the result, which is what I believed all along. It shows we were trying our best and that is all anyone can do.”
The League Against Cruel Sports, which filmed the hunt and initially brought the case as a private prosecution, is taking legal advice about challenging the decision.