Borders huntsman found not guilty of illegal fox hunting
The case against two members of the Buccleuch Hunt in the Borders charged with illegal fox hunting has concluded yesterday (Wednesday, 5th December) at Jedburgh Sheriff Court. One huntsman was found not guilty while the case against the second was withdrawn
Timothy Allen and Shaun Anderson both pled not guilty to deliberately hunting a wild mammal with dogs on land surrounding the village of Morebattle in the Scottish Borders on 20th Dec 2017. Huntsmen Allen and Anderson were charged with breaching Section 1(1) of The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 after video footage taken by the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland was passed to Police Scotland.
Sheriff Patterson concluded that the case against Allen was impossible to convict due to well documented difficulties with the legislation. He found Anderson not guilty of the charges against him on the grounds that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove he was deliberately hunting.
Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said:
“We are disappointed that despite clear evidence the case against Allen has been withdrawn and Anderson has been found not guilty. As has been the case on a number of occasions in the past, failings in the law which supposedly bans hunting in Scotland have made prosecution extremely difficult.
“Today’s outcome simply reinforces our view that the law is not fit for purpose and isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
In the 16 years since the Act was introduced, there has only been one successful prosecution for mounted fox hunting. The League Scotland is calling for the law to be strengthened and loopholes to be closed in order to prevent hunts evading prosecution.
A Scottish Government consultation on the workings of the fox hunting law, following a review by Lord Bonomy, closed in January this year. The analysis of the consultation illustrated huge support in favour of strengthening the law to really ban hunting in Scotland, with 98% indicating support or agreement with Lord Bonomy.
Despite this the Government has failed to make any decision on its intentions for the law and as a result, Green MSP Alison Johnstone has pledged to bring forward a Members Bill before the end of the year to introduce better protections for Scotland’s wildlife, including a complete ban on hunting with dogs.
Robbie Marsland added:
“We hope today will act as a wake up call to the Scottish Government that it must act now to improve the law. It is almost impossible for courts to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt due to the complexities of the current law which is clearly not working.
“We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has procrastinated for such a long time over fox hunting, engaging in a four year process which has got us precisely nowhere. The time has come for action to really ban hunting in Scotland.”
Notes to editor
- 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 league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).
- Footage can be downloaded here.
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