The League Against Cruel Sports withdrew from the trial last week after defence lawyers accused expert witness for the prosecution, Professor Steve Harris, of being inappropriately linked to the charity. Pro-hunt groups seized the opportunity to attack the charity, claiming that it was wrong to have taken the prosecution, and accusing it of ‘wasting ‘£100,000’ of charity funds’ – a figure plucked out of the air which is many times greater than the amount the charity actually spent.

However, the judge took a judgment on Wednesday morning as to whether there was an unnecessary or improper act or omission by the League, by not revealing details of the relationship prior to the case. He concluded that there was not.

Further, the judge deemed that the League would not have to pay the hunt’s court costs, which amounted to £72,355.42.

Tom Quinn, Director of Campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Pro-hunt supporters and the Countryside Alliance have done their best to blacken our name by accusing us of wrongly taking this prosecution, of somehow trying to mislead the court, and of wasting our supporters’ money. This judgement shows they are wrong on all counts.

“The evidence we put in front of the court deserved to be there, and we will not be bullied into shirking from highlighting what we believe is bang to rights illegal hunting. It is a shame this prosecution wasn’t able to go right to the end, but anyone watching the video can make up their own mind as to what they are seeing.

“We have incurred some costs through this case, naturally, but they will be around a third of what the hunt have spent – and a quarter of what they were insinuating we were going to have to pay. We believe that our supporters will understand that to bring people to justice for wildlife cruelty, we will sometimes have to put our money where our mouth is, and we think this amount was totally justified.

“The vast majority of people in this country are opposed to fox hunting as they find it a pathetic remnant of the dark ages which serves no practical purpose other than to amuse a small, cruel but influential minority. The League Against Cruel Sports will continue to represent the majority, despite attempts by pro-hunt groups to besmirch the name of respected experts who disagree with them, despite attempts to desperately deflect attention away from the illegal activity practised by some hunts, and despite attempts to silence and discredit us. We fight on.”