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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Hunt campaign loses court battle
Hunting in Oxfordshire
Pro-hunt groups claimed the ban breached human rights
Pro-hunt campaigners have lost their second High Court challenge to laws banning hunting with dogs.

The Countryside Alliance tried to use European human rights laws to overturn the ban in England and Wales.

They said the ban robbed people of the right to work, destroyed businesses and ruined people's social lives. Opponents of hunting say it is cruel.

The ban was upheld by two judges on Friday but the pro-hunt group plans to appeal against the judgement.

The ban was forced through the House of Lords last year using the Parliament Act after MPs repeatedly voted in favour of outlawing hunting with dogs.

'Reasonable case'

Lord Justice May and Mr Justice Moses ruled the Hunting Act had "a legitimate aim" and was proportionate.

They said: "We consider that there was sufficient material available to the House of Commons for them to conclude that hunting with dogs is cruel."

In any case, there was "a reasonable basis" for deciding that "taken as a whole, hunting foxes with dogs causes more suffering than shooting them".

Whether the court is right to have proceeded in this way is plainly a controversial question
John Jackson
Countryside Alliance chairman

The judges said there were "two irreconcilable opposing views" which were both reasonable. A majority of MPs had then decided it was necessary to pass the ban.

It was "reasonably open to the majority of the democratically-elected House of Commons to conclude that this measure was necessary in the democratic society which had elected them", added the judges.

At a hearing earlier this month, Countryside Alliance lawyers argued the ban was in many ways "sectarian" and would cause "devastation" to rural communities.

'Controversial'

After Friday's ruling, Countryside Alliance chairman John Jackson said his group had been granted leave to appeal.

Mr Jackson said: "The judges have accepted that there is interference with some of the claimants' rights, and that the Hunting Act will have a substantial general adverse effect on the lives of many in the rural community.

"However, the court, ignoring events in the Commons and the Lords, appears to have proceeded on the assumption that Parliament had a legitimate aim and has itself then speculated on what that may have been.

"Whether the court is right to have proceeded in this way is plainly a controversial question."

'Vindicated'

John Rolls, director of Animal Welfare Promotion at the RSPCA, said the court had given "very clear and authoritative" backing to the ban.

"We see this judgement as a total vindication of our long-held view that hunting with dogs is cruel and unacceptable in modern Britain," said Mr Rolls.

"There is no right under human rights legislation to inflict cruelty on animals."

In February, the Countryside Alliance tried to argue that the Parliament Act which was used to force through the ban was itself invalid.

That challenge was rejected by the High Court and Court of Appeal but the Law Lords in the House of Lords have yet to give their final judgement.




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