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Hunting act challenges reach the Appeal Court

THE CHALLENGES to the Hunting Act 2004 under European Human Rights law and European Union law were being heard in the Appeal Court on Monday to Wednesday of this week (13th-15th March) and continuing Monday to Wednesday of next week (20th-22nd March).

A previous challenge, mounted by the Countryside Alliance on behalf of a number of named claimants to the High Court last year was dismissed. Although the High Court did not find in favour of the several claimants, it granted them leave to appeal on several points. The High Court accepted that elements of European Human Rights and EU law are engaged by the Hunting Act, although they concluded that the Government was justified in introducing the law.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart commented: "We are confident of this case. The High Court accepted that the Hunting Act would have a long-term negative effect on the lives of many in the rural community in England and Wales.

"We will argue against the High Court’s finding that there was a legitimate aim to the Hunting Act, and that it was a proportionate measure. Several MPs have themselves identified their motives in voting for the Hunting Act - and far from proving a legitimate aim this shows that the Act was based on prejudice rather than principle.

"There is no evidence to suggest that it has or will prevent unnecessary suffering - in fact it seems likely that it is already having a negative impact on animal welfare."