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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Legal hurdle to hunting ban bill
Fox hunt
Hunting with dogs could soon be illegal
Campaigners who oppose any ban on hunting with dogs are to mount a fresh legal challenge to stop new legislation passing through the Scottish Parliament.

A Scottish Conservative MSP has applied to the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday in a bid to stop the Protection of Wild Mammals Bill becoming law.

Ben Wallace is seeking a judicial review over what he says is the unfair help the Scottish Executive is giving Labour MSP Mike Watson to push through his members bill.

Last month, MSPs agreed to back the general principles of the bill by 84 to 34, following a heated debate in the chamber.

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace: "Judicial review"
Speaking outside the Court of Session Mr Wallace said: "This supposedly neutral executive seems intent on only helping one side in this debate.

"This is unfair to other MSPs who want to ensure that any amendments to Mike Watson's Bill would make 'good' law. After my request for the same executive assistance was refused, I decided that any such bias should be stopped, and that Lord Watson should look elsewhere for help with his Bill."

The Conservative MSP for north-east Scotland said he was not treating the challenge as a party political issue but was acting in his capacity as a member of the parliament.

'Great injustice'

He added: "I am seeking judicial review of the legitimacy of help for Mike Watson and also, if it is legitimate, on their refusal to help me."

The Scottish Countryside Alliance said it would support Mr Wallace in his fight to overturn a "great injustice".

A spokesman for the alliance said: "The executive cannot have it both ways, be neutral and at the same time offer assistance to one MSP but not to others.

"It smacks of hypocrisy and undermines the credibility of parliament."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We await the legal challenge. We will consider our response accordingly."

See also:

19 Sep 01 | Scotland
Vote supports hunting ban
11 Jul 01 | Scotland
Hunting bill MSP 'optimistic'
11 Jul 01 | Scotland
Hunting bill hits major setback
04 May 01 | Scotland
Hunting bill falls at first hurdle
02 May 01 | Scotland
Hunting ban bill stumbles
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