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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Court backs hunting ban
Hunting composite
Passions run high over the issue of fox hunting
Pro-hunting campaigners have failed in their attempt to have the ban on fox hunting in Scotland overturned by the courts.

A challenge by the Scottish Countryside Alliance against a new law banning hunting with hounds has been rejected.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh has turned down the attempt to prevent the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act from coming into force on Thursday.

Pro-hunt activists argued that the act breached their human rights and that an end to foxhunting would hit their incomes.

However, those arguments were rejected by the judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, to the delight of anti-hunt campaigners.

Les Ward, chairman of the Scottish Campaign Against Hunting with Dogs (Scahd) said: "We are delighted that the judge has confirmed that hunting will end on 1 August.

A young hunt supporter outside the court
A young hunt supporter outside the court

"At long last this barbaric sport will no longer be practised on Scottish soil and foxes, hares and mink will be spared the unbearable suffering of being chased and killed by a pack of dogs.

"We believe that hunting is cruel and unnecessary and MSPs were fully justified in following their constituents' wish to ban it.

"The will of the Scottish Parliament was always clear on this issue, and this has been reflected by the judge's decision today."

'Not surprised'

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

Hunt supporters said they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the court's decision to dismiss their legal challenge to the act.

However Allan Murray, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, vowed to fight the decision "in every court of the land" to protect individual rights over "political dogma".

'Shatter livelihoods

Mr Murray said confusion still remained over the scope of the act.

He said: "We're very disappointed but not surprised about the decision but we are determined to fight it all the way.

"This legislation will shatter livelihoods and businesses in rural Scotland, yet the court appears to have merely rubber-stamped the Act passed by the Scottish Parliament."

Lord Nimmo Smith said the petition from the nine organisations and individuals was "incompetent" and arguments put forward in it were of "doubtful relevancy".

Allan Murray
Allan Murray: Promised to continue the fight
The judge said it was not within the power of the courts to overrule the will of the Scottish Parliament on the isue.

He rejected allegations form the pro-hunt campaigners that the act interfered with their private lives and was discriminatory.

He said: "To regulate the way in which animals may be hunted and killed appears to me to be far more within the constitutional responsibility of the parliament as the elected legislature than within the constitutional responsibility of the courts.

"All of these considerations appear to me to point to it being appropriate for this court to defer to a greater rather than a lesser extent to the Scottish Parliament in respect of legislation such as the Protection of Wild Mammals Act."

The ruling was welcomed by anti-hunt campaigners in England and Wales, who said it would boost their efforts to secure a ban south of the border.

Mike Hobday, of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "This decision will add further pressure on the government to bring forward legislation that will clearly bring an end to the gratuitous cruelty of hunting with dogs in England and Wales."

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

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The Scottish ban

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See also:

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