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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 19:35 GMT
Judge quits bench over hunt ban
Michael Spencer QC
Michael Spencer is head of Crown Office Chambers in London
A recorder and deputy high court judge has resigned from the bench in protest at the ban on hunting.

Michael Spencer QC is head of a large barristers' chambers in London and is chairman of the Ampleforth Beagles which hunts hares in North Yorkshire.

Mr Spencer, 57, says he is not prepared to be part of a legal system that makes criminals out of hunters.

And he likens the situation to the persecution of minorities in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

"All I'm concerned about is being involved in a criminal justice system that makes criminals out of people who hunt," Mr Spencer told BBC News.

It's not what the criminal law should be about
Michael Spencer QC

"I can't be a participant in such a criminal justice system."

The barrister explained that because of his involvement in hunting he would not have been able to sit in any cases brought under the Hunting Act which bans hunting with dogs in England and Wales and came into force on 19 February.

But he is concerned about the use of legal powers to ban hunts.

"It's not what the criminal law should be about," he said.

"There's very little difference between persecuting people for what they are and persecuting people for what they do if what they do doesn't cause harm to anybody and doesn't harm anyone's property.

"That's the sort of thing the Germans got up to in Nazi Germany in the 30s.

"Worst of all it's being done for party political advantage, not out of concern for animals or anything of that sort."

Mr Spencer's views were dismissed by Mike Hobday, a spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports.

"There is nothing wrong with legislation that prevents cruelty to animals," he said.

"Cruelty in the name of sport is particularly morally abhorrent."


SEE ALSO:
Minister defends hunting ban law
21 Feb 05 |  Politics
Illegal hunt claim investigated
20 Feb 05 |  Somerset
Hunts go ahead despite new laws
20 Feb 05 |  West Yorkshire


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