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Master of hounds in court for hunting

A FORMER Master of Hounds has become the first member of a Scottish hunt to appear in court charged with breaking the foxhunting ban in Scotland.

Trevor Adams, Master of the Foxhounds with the Buccleuch hunt in the Borders, is accused of letting hounds run out of control in pursuit of a fox on farmland in October 2002, three months after the ban came into force.

Mr Adams, 46, who was accompanied to court last week by Allan Murray of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, denies deliberately hunting a fox with hounds.

In a case regarded as the first test of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told that Mr Adams’s hounds were chasing a fox when there were no armed huntsmen nearby. Under the legislation huntsmen are allowed to use hounds to flush out a fox, but the captured animal must be shot dead instead of being killed by dogs.

Yesterday Ian Hutcheson, a farmer, told the court that he was alerted to the Buccleuch Hunt, one of the oldest in Scotland, when he heard hounds baying. He got into his Jeep and drove to the top of a hill to see what was happening.

"It was basically hunting from what I saw and heard. The hounds were going hell for leather after something. I phoned the police because I thought hunting was banned, like the rest of Scotland thought," he said.

Mr Hutcheson, 50, who said that he had previously allowed hunts to ride across his land but now believed that the sport was "outdated", added that he was angry to see horses and dogs on his land.

Earlier, Constable David Small, of Lothian and Borders Police, said that part of his duties on October 16 was to attend the hunt to remind people of the legislation. He said that there were about 20 people on horses and two men carrying shotguns on a quad bike and an all-terrain vehicle.

Sergeant Nigel Bell said that he interviewed Mr Adams at Jedburgh police station after the complaint from Mr Hutcheson. Mr Adams, of Eildon, near Melrose, told the officer that he had been on horseback and in charge of the hounds.

He said that during the hunt the hounds were no more than 300 yards away from him. "They were hunting the scent of a fox and I couldn’t get near them and take the direct route as I would have damaged Mr Hutcheson’s crops. Had I been able to cross Mr Hutcheson’s land, I would have been able to stop them quicker. Neither I nor any member of the hunt was intentionally chasing foxes with the hounds."

Mr Adams said that the hunt that day was to control pests and protect livestock. The case was adjourned until Tuesday of this week.