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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Lawyer rejects hunt ban payout
Hunting hounds
Campaigners say hounds will need to be put down
Compensation for people who claim their livelihoods have been ruined by the ban on hunting with dogs in Scotland has been ruled out by a lawyer for the Scottish Executive.

James Wolffe QC told the Court of Session that the law was designed to outlaw an activity widely viewed as being cruel.

The lawyer, who is representing the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, said compensation for those taking part in such an activity was not appropriate.

Nine individuals and organisations have lodged petitions at the court in Edinburgh claiming that the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act infringes their human rights.

Rural rebel
Rural rebels opposed the hunting ban

One of their arguments is that they should receive compensation.

Mr Wolffe said the legislation, which is due to come into effect from 1 August, struck "a fair balance" between the interests of the public and those who take part in hunting.

He rejected claims that many fox hounds will need to be put down as a result of the new legislation.

He said: "The dogs may continue to be used for a variety of operating purposes consistent with the Act.

"The petitioners say that it is likely that a large number of hounds will need to be put down because they are bred for hunting and unsuited to be kept as pets.

Lawful pursuits

"But it's not said that they will all require to be put down. It's implicit that some of them will not and that there is some alternative use.

"If the dogs are to be put down, that's a choice made by the owners. The Act does not require that to be done."

Mr Wolffe also said that while the Act prevented landowners from using their property to engage in hunting, it did not prevent the land being used for lawful pursuits.

However the judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, remarked that putting down the dogs "might be regarded as the only reasonable thing to do" if no other use for them can be found.

The Protection of Wild Mammals Bill was originally launched by Labour MSP Mike Watson and was the focus of a fierce battle between the pro and anti-hunting lobby.

It was finally passed by MSPs on 13 February and given Royal Assent on 15 March.

Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

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See also:

03 Jul 02 | Scotland
02 Jul 02 | Scotland
14 Feb 02 | Scotland
13 Feb 02 | Scotland
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