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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Case dropped against huntsman
hunt hounds
Steve Christmas was injured during a hunt protest
A man accused of deliberately driving his car over a hunt saboteur, leaving him critically injured, will not face court action.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped charges against Martin Maynard because "fresh evidence" became known.

Anti-hunt campaigners have condemned the CPS decision to end its case against Mr Maynard, whose off-road vehicle was in collision with Steve Christmas at a protest last September.

Mr Christmas was airlifted to hospital and spent four weeks in intensive care following the incident in West Sussex.

It seems to me that the law is very much on the side of the huntsmen

Carla Lane, animal welfare campaigner

He suffered a crushed pelvis, internal bleeding and broken ribs, during the incident near a meet of the Old Surrey and Burstow Fox Hounds in Horsted Keynes, near Crawley, on 1 September.

Supporters of Mr Christmas, 42, of Bolney, near Haywards Heath, alleged that two wheels of the four-wheel drive car ran over the protester.

Mr Maynard faced a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Dawn Preston of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) said "an amazing" 18 anti-hunt protesters were still facing charges relating to broken windows at the hunt kennels on the same day.

"This decision represents a travesty of justice but we will not let this be the end," she said.

Legal advice

Two hunt saboteurs have died during their protests on other occasions.

Mike Hill was killed in February 1991 after being crushed by a vehicle at a meet of the Cheshire Beagles, and 15-year-old Tom Worby died after falling under the wheels of a car in April 1993 at Cambridgeshire protest.

Ms Preston added the HSA was taking legal advice about possible courses of action against the CPS decision, the police and the hunt.

A CPS spokesman said: "Following the receipt of fresh evidence and considering counsel's advice it was decided there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

The incident took place close to the home of author and animal welfare campaigner Carla Lane.

Stressing she was not a supporter of animal rights groups, Ms. Lane said: "It seems to me that the law is very much on the side of the huntsmen.

"It is awful that a man can be so badly hurt and no-one be prosecuted for it."

See also:

16 Sep 99 | UK
Is fox hunting cruel?
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