Huntsman’s appeal ruling reinforces why the Hunting Act needs to be strengthened

Press release

20 July 2022

For immediate release

National animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports is urging the government to strengthen the Hunting Act in the face of a legal U-turn against one of hunting’s top people.

Mark Hankinson, former director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, today had his appeal against his sentence for teaching hunts how to break the law upheld by His Honour Judge Gregory Perrins at Southwark Crown Court.

In the judgement following the initial trial, Judge Tan Ikram, deputy chief magistrate for England and Wales, described Hankinson and others of using those exemptions as ‘a sham and a mirage’ designed to let them carry on with ‘old fashioned illegal hunting’.

However, giving his ruling, HHJ Perrins said that while Hankinson’s words were capable of encouraging hunts to break the Hunting Act, he couldn’t be satisfied that the evidence met the threshold to prove that was Hankinson’s intention. He therefore allowed the appeal and Hankinson’s conviction has been quashed.

Andy Knott, MBE, chief executive of the League, said: “The appeal result changes nothing in terms of our position, because only by strengthening the Hunting Act by closing its many loopholes and outlawing so-called trail hunting can illegal hunting be properly stopped and those determined to carry on persecuting wildlife brought to justice.”

As well as campaigning for the Hunting Act to be strengthened, the League is urging landowners that either suspended permission for trail hunting on their land as a result of the original trial, or those who still allow it to continue, to prohibit the practice for good.

Andy added: “While we wait for those in power to do the right thing and strengthen the Hunting Act we urge those who give licences for potential criminal activity to take place on their land to remove those permissions and help us bring an end to this so-called sport.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

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 2004 and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021.

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 www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).

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