Opinion Former Article

Countryside Alliance: No appeal leaves Hunting Act 'fatally weakened'

The Director of Public Prosecutions' (DPP) has decided not to appeal against a High Court judgment that fatally weakened the Hunting Act.

During the case the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) argued that "prosecutions under the 2004 Act would rarely be viable" if it lost its appeal against the judgment in the acquittal of Tony Wright, of the Exmoor Hunt. It has now said it will not appeal and that pending prosecutions against three hunts will be reviewed.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive, Simon Hart, said: "The decision not to appeal is an admission that the law is in a mess. We are now left in a situation where insinuation and allegations will continue but, as the CPS itself admits, prosecutions will rarely if ever be viable. This is an unhappy state of affairs that promotes nothing but confusion and brings the law as a whole into disrepute. The only sensible option is to get rid of this badly drafted, unfair and illiberal piece of legislation.

"Even anti-hunting MPs are now admitting that the Act has failed and there is increasing support from politicians of all parties for the repeal of the Hunting Act."

Ends.

Notes to Editor

. The judgment limits the definition of 'hunting' to the pursuit of a mammal with dogs; it upholds the presumption of innocence for people involved in legal 'exempt' hunting by putting the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove that any hunting is illegal; and it confirms that 'hunting' can only be intentional - you cannot hunt by accident.

. Only 5 people from 3 hunts (Quantocks Staghounds, Flint and Denbigh Foxhounds and Minehead Harriers) have been convicted of Hunting Act offences since the Hunting Act came into force in Feb 2005. Only 1 of those people was prosecuted by the CPS.

. 3 hunts (Devon and Somerset Staghounds, Heythrop Hunt and Percy Hunt) have CPS prosecutions pending against them.

For further information please call the press office on 020 7840 9220 or 07775 938792

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