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Judge attacks pro hunt march ban


A JUDGES SHOULD not be banned from joining the Countryside Alliance march, planned for September 22nd. in protest against “prejudiced attacks” on hunting, according to a senior member of the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Aldous, a past master of foxhounds, said he “resented” advice given last year by Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, that it would be “wholly inappropriate” for judges to take part in “quasi-political” events such as the Liberty and Livelihood March, postponed from last year.

While agreeing to follow this advice, Lord Justice Aldous said he wanted his friends to know that his absence from the march would not imply any lack of support for its aims.

The Court of Appeal judges were told at a meeting in April last year that the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and the heads of the Chancery and Family divisions of the High Court took the view that judges should not take part in activities such as Countryside Alliance marches, “nor be seen to affiliate themselves with such public expressions, no matter how strong their personal convictions or point of view”.

Disagree

According to confidential minutes of the judges’ meeting, Lord Justice Aldous disagreed with the advice.

Last week, Lord Justice Aldous, 67, who was master of the Essex and Suffolk hunt from 1970 to 1976, said he did not see any reason why judges should not take part in a lawful march.

The Countryside Alliance says that marchers will call on the Government to “safeguard rural people from prejudiced attacks on hunting with dogs and all other field sports”.Lord Justice Aldous said he would never sit in a case in which these issues might arise.

In advising judges not to take part before the march was postponed because of foot and mouth last year, Lord Justice Woolf said they might find themselves in an embarrassing position “should public order issues arise”.

Lord Justice Aldous said: “If the march was going to be a demonstration where violence was going to take place, then clearly I would not wish to be associated with it. But a lawful march is completely different.”

He agreed that judges should not be actively involved in party politics. “But I don’t see this as political.”