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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December 2004, 17:21 GMT
Man cleared of fox hunting charge
Trevor Adams
Mr Adams was found to have been in control of the hounds
A huntsman from the Scottish Borders has been cleared of deliberately using a pack of hounds to hunt foxes in breach of anti-hunting legislation.

Trevor Adams, 46, from Melrose, was the first person to go on trial accused of breaking the law, introduced in 2002.

He denied the charge and claimed the hounds were used to "flush" out foxes so they could be shot.

In what was seen as a test case, the sheriff at Jedburgh ruled that the dogs were not out of control at any time.

The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2002.

A ban on fox hunting is due to come into effect south of the border in February 2005.

Mr Adams was accused of deliberately hunting a fox with 20 dogs at Courthill, near Kelso, Roxburghshire, on 6 October, 2002.

I am very glad that justice has prevailed and I am looking forward to getting on with my job, which is my life
Trevor Adams
Mr Adams is a leading huntsman with Scotland's largest hunt, the Buccleuch, and had been running a Fox Control Service for farmers.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Adams said: "I am very relieved by the sheriff's ruling. I have never been accused of a crime before.

"I am very glad that justice has prevailed and I am looking forward to getting on with my job, which is my life.

"I will continue in my job as huntsman and will continue to offer the pest control service the landowners and farmers have requested from us.

"I am personally very pleased that our interpretation of the new form of hunting has been supported by this judgment."

Tenant farmer

Hunt supporters said the hunts have reinvented themselves since the introduction of the legislation and hunting is now about pest control.

The hounds are only used - as the law requires - to "flush out" foxes towards people with guns, who shoot them. They cannot be used to kill foxes.

At an earlier hearing, the sheriff was told that tenant farmer Ian Hutcheson, 50, had refused Mr Adams' Fox Control Service entry to his land at Courthill.

He called the police as he believed the group was hunting illegally.

In his judgement, Sheriff Drummond said: "It was said that parliament has indicated by the terms of this legislation that the shooting of foxes is promoted and the accused had taken care to comply.

Allan Murray
Allan Murray welcomed the outcome
"There was no deliberate hunting of a fox with dogs.

"The accused's activity accordingly falls within the terms of Section 2 (2) and he is not guilty of the offence."

The Scottish Countryside Alliance welcomed the judgement.

Allan Murray of the alliance said: "Trevor has always had our full support and we are very pleased that he has been vindicated.

"The hunting community in Scotland are a vital part of the rural economy and a necessary operation for farmers and landowners.

"We hope that they will continue to contribute to the rural community in this way for many years to come."

Buccleuch Foxhounds spokesman Joe Scott-Plummer said: "This confirms our belief that the fox control service that we have been offering landowners and farmers over the past two-and-a-half years has been undertaken within the bounds of the law as we and our advisers have interpreted it.

"All hunts in Scotland had to restructure as a result of the legislation and, in consultation with police forces, agreed a form of pest control permitted by the act."

Future implications of the hunting test case

Is hunting ban enforceable?
10 Dec 04 |  Have Your Say
First huntsman appears in court
26 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Huntsmen 'destroying more foxes'
20 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Hunt ban human rights challenge
21 Sep 04 |  Scotland

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