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Hunting conviction upheld

TWO MEN convicted of breaking the law prohibiting hunting have had their appeal against conviction rejected.

Richard Down and Adrian Pillivant, both members of the Quantock Staghounds, were convicted after being filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports. The league filmed the pair chasing a deer for more than an hour, in clear breach of the terms of the Hunting Act 2005, and the hunters were convicted.

A judge at Taunton Crown Court rejected their appeal late last week, saying the pair were hunting for sport.

Down, 44, and Pillivant, 36, were convicted by magistrates in June after the anti-hunt campaigners filmed two hounds as they chased deer across Exmoor a year after the Hunting Act made hunting with hounds illegal.

The law allows the use of dogs to flush out wild animals so they can be shot.

The League Against Cruel Sports told the original court hearing that the deer were chased for more than an hour with no attempt made to shoot them humanely or call off the hounds as required under the law.

Meanwhile, the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance said that it welcomed the judgment in the appeal. Whilst the judge decided that Down and Pillivant were guilty of an offence on the day in question he outlined how the staghounds could continue to hunt within the law.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart commented: ‘We remain convinced that Richard Down and Adrian Pillivant believed what they were doing on that day in February 2006 was legal hunting. Surely it cannot be reasonable to have expected these men to have interpreted a law, which even its supporters describe as ambiguous, in exactly the same way as a High Court Judge. It does seem ridiculous that huntsmen have been convicted of not killing enough deer.

‘But we also asked that the judge gave a framework for future exempt hunting and he did. The court has confirmed that, with adaptation, the Quantock Staghounds, and others who use this exemption, can continue to hunt.

The Hunting Act may be prejudiced and pointless, but this judgment means that the Quantock Staghounds can continue to operate until the Act is repealed.’