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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 07:05 GMT
Fox hunting ban facing new hurdle
Countryside campaigners have promised a prompt legal challenge to the ban on fox hunting which has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs voted in favour of outlawing hunting with hounds, effectively stamping out mounted fox hunts, hare coursing and fox baiting.

Pro-hunt campaigners were incensed by the ban and by the refusal of MSPs to give compensation to those facing redundancy because of it.

They have claimed that the new legislation will not stand up to court scrutiny.

Allan Murray, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said there would be a full legal assessment of the bill.

He said: "You can be assured that every line of this legislation will be dissected by the best legal brains in the country in an effort to expose its flaws, contradictions and incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Pest control

"There will be challenges under Scots, and if necessary European law.

"Judges will have to look at the facts and the competency of this legislation dispassionately rather than it being left in the hands of politicians acting out of prejudice and ignorance."

The SCA's advisors were said to be working through the night in the hope that they will be able to announce grounds for legal challenge on Thursday morning.

Conservative MSPs pointed the way - claiming one clause allows mounted fox hunts for pest control.

Alex Fergusson, rural affairs spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, claimed a section of the bill allowing dogs to flush out animal pests could provide a backdoor route for hunting to continue.

He said: "It doesn't say you can't be on horseback, it doesn't say you can't wear a red coat, it doesn't say you can't use a pack of hounds to do it."

But Scottish Nationalist MSP Tricia Marwick, one of the bill's main backers, dismissed the Tories' claims as "utter mince".

Anti-hunt campaigners said the courts would reject these arguments because the ban has a moral purpose.

The new law still needs Royal approval and then it is up to ministers to decide when it should be enforced.

Some of the 10 Scottish hunts were expected to be out on Thursday and the SCA insists it has not been defeated yet.

Scotland Political Editor Brian Taylor
"There are two aspects that could be challenged"

Fox Hunts
Is Scotland right to put a stop to the bloodsport?
See also:

13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Hunt compensation rejected
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Passions rise over hunt Bill
13 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Hunt lobby's hopes may be dashed
13 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Labour MPs step up hunting call
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Fox hunting: The arguments
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
Fox hunting: The bill
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