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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Hunting ban challenge is rejected
A fox
Judges maintained that hunting with hounds is unethical
A legal bid to overturn the ban on the hunting of foxes with dogs in Scotland has been rejected by appeal judges.

The challenge to the country's anti-hunting legislation was thrown out at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The Countryside Alliance and members of the fox hunting lobby argued the laws were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The hunt supporters tried to overturn the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, heard the case alongside Lord Macfadyen and Lord Abernethy.

Bid denied

The three judges ruled there was enough information available for the executive to decide hunting with dogs inflicted pain on the fox and there was a proper basis for making the judgement that it constituted cruelty.

The pro-hunt group included the Countryside Alliance, the Fife and Jedforest Hunts, a joint master of the Buccleuch Hunt, the Master of Foxhounds Association and its chairman Lord Daresbury.

They made their challenge under a judicial review claiming fox hunting was not cruel and no more cruel than other permitted ways of killing foxes.

They also argued the ban was "disproportionate to the mischief" that it sought to outlaw and had damaged local economies where people were employed in fox hunting and related trades.

An earlier challenge had previously been rejected by Lord Nimmo Smith after the act became law in 2002.

Lord Gill said: "The question whether fox hunting is cruel involves both a question of fact and a value judgement.

'Catch up'

"We consider it was entirely within the discretion of the parliament to make the judgement that the pursuit and killing of a fox by a mounted hunt and a pack of hounds, for the purposes of recreation and sport and for the pleasure of both participants and spectators, was ethically wrong."

He added that the pro-fox hunting group had failed to set out a relevant case that they were discriminated against in their human rights without objective justification.

Animal rights campaigners said the way was now clear for the re-introduction of the government's hunting bill advocating a ban in England and Wales.

Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: "This confirmation sets a clear example for the House of Commons.

"There are no human rights grounds to prevent a ban.

"The government's Hunting Bill should be reintroduced as soon as possible so that England and Wales can play 'catch up' with Scotland."


SEE ALSO:
Blair under pressure over hunting
19 May 04  |  Politics
Man is fined over killing of fox
19 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Timeline: Hunting row
21 Oct 03  |  Politics
Hunt row rages one year on
01 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Scots join pro-hunt march
22 Sep 02  |  Scotland


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