Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 16:21 UK

Hunt seeks court ban for protests

Landowners in Sussex have been given a priority listing in the High Court for their legal bid to ban protesters before the hunting season begins.

The Crawley and Horsham Hunt wants to prevent hunt monitors entering acres of private estate and farm land.

Lawyers for the hunt told a judge they were seeking a ruling by 1 September so as to have an injunction in place for the start of the hunting season.

Mr Justice Teare ordered an urgent four-day hearing, to begin on 28 July.

The hunt, backed by landowners and supported by the Countryside Alliance and the Masters of Foxhounds Association, is suing the West Sussex Wildlife Protection Group and its principal activists, Simon and Jaine Wilde, of Bognor Regis.

Harassment claim

The case is being brought under the Protection From Harassment Act.

Lawyers said there are more than 100 hours of video footage to prove the hunt, its supporters and landowners had been subjected to trespass and harassment.

The hunt insisted it has been operating within the law since the ban on hunting with hounds came into force and stresses that it is not seeking to ban objectors from public land, footpaths and highways.

However, the wildlife group said it has substantial evidence that the hunt has broken the law.

It argues that the evidence of hunt monitors has been instrumental in prosecuting hunts which have failed to abide by the Hunting Act.




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