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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Court showdown over hunting
The parliament voted to ban fox hunting in February
Pro-hunt supporters have launched their legal bid to have a ban on hunting with hounds overturned at the Court of Session.

They say that the ban, which is due to come into effect on 1 August, breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

Campaigners, including the Scottish Countryside Alliance, argue that the end of foxhunting will hit their incomes.

The hunt supporters also say that in some instances it may mean that people whose work is tied to the hunts will be made homeless.

Allan Murray
Allan Murray is "optimistic" about victory

On Tuesday morning a number of campaigners gathered outside the court in Edinburgh with a pack of hounds and placards in advance of the judicial review hearing.

Allan Murray, the director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said he was confident of victory.

"The petitioners believe that their rights have been infringed by this legislation under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)," he said.

"I'm optimistic and I say that with real conviction because we did not sign up to this, parliament did, and we hope the court can give us a good decision.

"Legislation going through the Scottish Parliament has to comply with the ECHR and this will be a test case."

'Barbaric' sports

But Yvonne Taylor, from the Scottish Campaign against Hunting with Dogs", said: "What we have here is a piece of legislation that has been drafted and debated and voted on by the Scottish Parliament.

"It has been voted on on behalf of the vast majority of Scots who are opposed to the barbaric sports of mounted fox hunting and hare coursing."

The proceedings on Tuesday were dominated by legal argument.

Campaigners sought a judicial review

Advocate General Lynda Clark QC and the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC have been identified by the petitioners as those who have infringed their human rights by allowing the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act to reach the statute books.

But Colin Tyre, the lawyer representing Ms Clark, said she should not have been included in the action at all and that the Scottish Parliament should have been called instead.

Mr Tyre argued that the petitions naming Ms Clark were "incompetent" and should be thrown out.

He said the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the parliament, should have been called to defend the legislation instead of Ms Clark.

'Political vandalism'

However, Paul Cullen QC, representing the pro-hunt petitioners, said it was "unmistakeably clear" that the Advocate General should be called.

In February, members of the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of outlawing hunting with hounds, which effectively stamped out mounted fox hunts, hare coursing and fox baiting.

However, there has been a vociferous campaign against the Bill, which was first instigated by Glasgow Cathcart MSP Mike Watson, now sports and tourism minister.

Countryside campaigners described the ban as "political vandalism" and quickly announced plans to take the fight to the courts when it was passed by MSPs.

Anti-hunt groups have criticised the legal challenge and said it should not be up to a "minority" to have the ban overturned.

Isabel Fraser reports
"It will be difficult for a judge to overturn a law"
Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

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The Scottish ban



See also:

14 Feb 02 | Scotland
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
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