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Law Lords reject appeal to overturn hunting ban

LAW LORDS last week rejected the appeal by pro-hunting campaigners to overturn the ban on hunting with dogs.

The campaigners headed by the Countryside Alliance went to the highest court in the land in July this year arguing that the 1949 Parliament Act was not legal and therefore the Hunting Act was invalid, as the 1949 Parliament Act was used to force the hunting ban through Parliament after opposition by the House of Lords last November.

But in a unanimous ruling, the Law Lords ruled that the Act was indeed legal. Lord Bingham told the House of Lords that all nine Law Lords who heard the case agreed that both the Hunting Act and Parliament Act were validly enacted.

The case was heard by nine of the 12 Law Lords, rather than the usual five, because of the constitutional importance of the case.

Simon Hart, chief executive of the pro-hunt group the Countryside Alliance, said the ruling had come as "no surprise" but the fight against the ban would go on.

"It was important we went down this route," he said. "The Law Lords, for technical reasons, found themselves unable to agree with our case."

John Cooper, Chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, welcomed the ruling.

"This is a triumph for democracy, for all those who abhor cruelty and most of all for English and Welsh wildlife," he said.

The Government's much-delayed Hunting Act was forced through Parliament in November last year using the Parliament Act. It introduced a total ban on hunting with dogs, outlawing fox-hunting, deer-hunting and hare-coursing.

Meanwhile the Countryside Alliance and other pro-hunt groups are due to start another round of challenges in the courts next year, this time using human rights and European employment law.

The Alliance and 10 individual claimants lodged an appeal last Friday in a challenge to the Hunting Act under European Human Rights legislation.

The Countryside Alliance’s chief executive Simon Hart explained: "The judges in the [earlier] divisional court accepted that there is interference with some of the claimants’ rights, and that the Hunting Act will have a substantial general adverse effect on the lives of many in the rural community. We believe that we have strong grounds for appeal," Mr Hart added.