Borders huntsman found not guilty of illegal fox hunting today

A member of the Buccleuch Hunt has today (Friday) been found not guilty of illegal fox hunting at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Myles O’Conner had been charged with deliberately hunting a wild mammal with dogs on land surrounding Castle Hume in Kelso in the Scottish Borders on 22nd December 2021. The case was brought after video footage taken by the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland was passed to Police Scotland.

O’Conner was charged under the now repealed hunting legislation, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. This has been replaced by the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 which came into force on 3rd October.

Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said: “We are of course disappointed that what we believed to be strong evidence of illegal hunting has resulted in yet another not guilty verdict, but this just goes to show the previous law was not worth the paper it was written on.

“Today’s verdict has vindicated the need for a new, stronger law on hunting with dogs and we now look forward to putting over two decades of flawed, loophole-ridden legislation behind us and moving on.”

In the 20 years since the Act was introduced, there was only one successful prosecution for mounted fox hunting. The Scottish Government introduced a new Bill in 2022 to strengthen the law. The new Act has reduced the pack of hounds to just two dogs and includes pre-emptive measures to prevent trail-hunting being established in Scotland.

Robbie Marsland added: “Scotland now has the most robust hunting legislation in the UK but this does not mean we will be complacent over the coming season. We will be scrutinising the activity of hunters more than ever before, and if we see evidence of the new law being exploited we will not hesitate to pass that onto Police Scotland.”


Notes to editor

  1. The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).
  2. Footage and images can be downloaded here and must be credited to the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland.
  3. Media enquiries to Louise Robertson on 07930 539832 /
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