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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 14:08 GMT
High Court upholds ban on hunting
Baroness Mallalieu and Simon Hart of the Countryside Alliance outside the court
The Countryside Alliance says it is confident about its appeal
Pro-hunt campaigners have lost their High Court challenge to the law banning hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

The Countryside Alliance had argued the law was unsound as the 1949 Parliament Act used to pass it was itself invalid, but judges said the Act was legitimate.

Campaigners were granted leave to appeal against the ruling on 8 February and may ask for an injunction delaying the ban pending the appeal decision.

Animal welfare groups have welcomed the ban, due to start on 18 February.

The League Against Cruel Sports is ready to make legal representations against an injunction, which could delay implementation of the Act until September.

We look forward to the ban on their barbaric 'sport' coming into force, as expected, on 18 February
John Rolls
RSPCA

The RSPCA welcomed the High Court's decision as "a watershed in the development of a more civilised society for people and animals".

Spokesman John Rolls said: "Despite this latest diversion from the Countryside Alliance, we look forward to the ban on their barbaric sport coming into force, as expected, on February 18."

The government said it had expected the ruling and welcomed future legal proceedings as they would clarify the legislation on hunting.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The Countryside Alliance should just accept the will of the people
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

Speaking outside the court, Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart vowed to fight on.

"This is the first of three rounds and everybody in the hunting community was quite clear that in the divisional court they did not expect necessarily to come away with success," he said.

"We go to the Court of Appeal confident that we have a very good case."

The alliance is also next week going to mount a challenge to the ban on human rights grounds, which could end up in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Constitutional importance

Lawyers for the Countryside Alliance based their legal case on claims that the 1949 Parliament Act, which lets the House of Commons overrule the House of Lords, was itself invalid because it was never passed by peers.

A win for the alliance would have been constitutionally significant as it would have rendered a number of other laws passed under the Act questionable.

But Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Mr Justice Collins, ruled the 1911 Parliament Act had allowed provision for amendments to the legislation.

What it means is that the House of Commons can pass legislation to destroy any constitutional power of the House of Lords
Baroness Mallalieu
Countryside Alliance

Baroness Mallalieu, president of the alliance, condemned the decision.

"What it means is that the House of Commons can pass legislation to destroy any constitutional power of the House of Lords."

But the chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, John Cooper, said: "It would set an appalling precedent that could allow anyone who does not like a piece of legislation to delay its implementation through spurious legal challenges."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why the judges rejected the hunt supporters' case



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