Lords uphold fox hunting ban

Fox hunting ban upheld in the House of Lords
Fox hunting ban upheld in the House of Lords

The Law Lords have upheld the government's ban on fox hunting after ruling it is not a human right.

In a legal challenge brought by the Countryside Alliance, the Lords accepted many of the pro-hunting arguments but said they could not go against the will of parliament.

The ban on hunting with dogs was finally achieved in 2004 after Tony Blair's government used the Parliament Act to overrule a pro-hunting contingent in the House of Lords.

Law Lords today unanimously backed the ban, ruling the democratic purpose would be subverted if critics succeeded in overturning a law passed in parliament.

The Countryside Alliance argued the ban violated human rights under article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, and had risked the jobs of thousands of people.

Ruling, Lord Rogers said hunting was an integral part of the identity of many people and therefore could potentially count as a "private life" for the purposes of article eight.

The Countryside Alliance was also cheered when Lord Brown said the ethical objection of the majority of people to fox hunting was not sufficient basis for finding the ban "necessary".

But lord chief justice Lord Bingham said: "The democratic process is liable to be subverted if, on a question of moral and political judgment, opponents of the act achieve through the courts what they could not achieve in parliament."

The Countryside Alliance will now take its case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: "We have always maintained that the legitimacy of the Hunting Act would eventually be decided in Europe.

"To have found in our favour would have meant the Law Lords finding that the government has allowed fundamental human rights and European Law to be violated."

He added: "We believe that the European Courts will support this view, even if the Law Lords were unable to."

Today marks the second legal defeat for the pro-hunting group, which previously tried to argue the ban was illegal because it had been passed through the Parliament Act.


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