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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 13:03 GMT
Law Lords reject hunt challenge
Fox hunting
Campaigners said the ban has put thousands of jobs at risk
The Countryside Alliance has lost its legal challenge to overturn the ban on hunting with hounds.

The pressure group argued that the ban contravened human rights and put thousands of jobs at risk.

The law was passed by the government in 2004 using the Parliament Act to overturn opposition in the Lords.

But the Law Lords unanimously ruled in favour of the ban. The Law Lords have also dismissed a similar appeal relating to Scotland.

The ban prohibits fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing with dogs in England and Wales.

Human rights

The Countryside Alliance argued that it violated the human rights of thousands of people and was putting between six and eight thousand jobs at risk.

We have always maintained that the legitimacy of the Hunting Act would eventually be decided in Europe
Simon Hart
Countryside Alliance

But the Law Lords rejected the argument ruling the democratic process risked being subverted if opponents of the ban won in the courts but not in Parliament.

The former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, headed the panel. He accepted that fox hunting is very important to the traditions and life of the countryside.

But he ruled: "The democratic process is liable to be subverted if, on a question of moral and political judgment, opponents of the act achieve through the courts what they could not achieve in Parliament."

Fighting on

It's not the first time the Countryside Alliance has suffered a legal setback.

Two years ago the Lords rejected an appeal made on constitutional grounds. The Alliance argued the ban was illegal because it had been originally passed using the Parliament Act without the consent of the House of Lords.

The Law Lords also refused an appeal brought by members of the Union of Country Sports Workers through the Scottish courts.

The Countryside Alliance is now planning to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The group's chief executive Simon Hart said: "To have found in our favour would have meant the Law Lords finding that the government has allowed fundamental human rights and European law to be violated.

"We believe that the European courts will support this view."



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