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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Huntsman appeals ban conviction
Tony Wright
Tony Wright denied breaching the Hunting Act
A Somerset man who became the first person to be convicted for breaking the ban on fox hunting with hounds has lodged an appeal against the decision.

Tony Wright, 52, of Simonsbath, was fined 500 and ordered to pay 250 costs after a private prosecution by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).

Appeal papers have been filed at Exeter Crown Court where a first hearing is expected within two months.

The league said it would fight Mr Wright's appeal.

'Very confident'

His trial was told he was filmed chasing two foxes across Exmoor with two hounds on 29 April 2005.

In the week-long hearing at Barnstaple Magistrates' Court this month, Mr Wright, of Exmoor Kennels, denied breaching the Hunting Act when he led the Exmoor Foxhounds last year.

He said he was operating with two dogs and a marksman under an exemption in the act.

The exemption stipulated the fox had to be shot as soon as possible after it was flushed and the hounds had to be closely controlled to enable the shooting to take place.

Hunt video
The video showed the Exmoor Foxhounds chasing two foxes

Exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail and flushing out foxes to be shot is still legal.

But the league alleged the hunt on 29 April went further by allowing hounds a "prolonged period of pursuit" of a fox on two occasions.

District judge Paul Palmer, who watched two of the league's videos, said what he saw was not exempt hunting and that reasonable steps were not taken to shoot the fox as soon as possible.

Mr Wright was the first fox huntsman to be summoned to court for defying the law which came into force last year in England and Wales.

A LACS spokesman said: "We are very confident that the conviction will be upheld.

"We think that the breach in the law was very clear, and the judge was very clear in his agreement with that view."


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