Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 13:54 UK

TV chef admits hunting offences

Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Sir Mark Prescott
The pair admitted attending two hare coursing events

Television chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright and racehorse trainer Sir Mark Prescott have escaped punishment after pleading guilty to hunting offences.

Dickson-Wright of Inveresk, Midlothian, and Prescott, of Newmarket, Suffolk, admitted attending two hare coursing events in North Yorkshire in 2007.

Both received an absolute discharge at Scarborough Magistrates' Court.

The private prosecution was brought by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Dickson-Wright, a former barrister, rose to fame in the BBC cookery programme Two Fat Ladies.

Prescott is a prolific trainer of winners from his Newmarket yard.

Neither appeared in person at the court.

'Odd' case

The case centred around a hare coursing event near Nunnington on 2 March 2007 and another the next day near Amotherby.

Hare coursing, which sees hares pursued by greyhounds, was outlawed at the same time as fox hunting with hounds in 2004.

The dogs were muzzled but that does not stop the damage and harm to the wildlife they chase and harry
John Cooper, IFAW

The court heard the events were organised by the Yorkshire Greyhound Field Trialling Club (YGFTC) and involved 46 trials, each involving two muzzled dogs chasing hares over the two days.

In July three-times champion jumps trainer Peter Easterby and Major John Shaw were found guilty of permitting land to be used for hare coursing at the same event.

The court heard how Dickson-Wright and Prescott were both invited to the event by the YGFTC, which believed it was running a legal event.

John Cooper, prosecuting for the IFAW, said: "During the course of both these events, the dogs were muzzled but that does not stop the damage and harm to the wildlife they chase and harry, simply because they are muzzled."

District Judge Kristina Harrison described the case as "odd" and said she believed the YGFTC had tried to stay within the law when organising the event.

She said her judgement was "not intended to condone hare coursing" and that any future offences would be dealt with "most seriously".

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