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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 15:28 GMT
Court drops fox hunting charges
Dogs in trailer
Hunting with hounds has been illegal in Scotland since 2002
Charges have been dropped against a Borders huntsman accused of breaking Scotland's fox hunting legislation, it has emerged.

Former master of the Jedforest Hunt Rory Innes, 27, has been told that proceedings against him have been discontinued after almost two years.

It comes a month after Buccleuch huntsman Trevor Adams was cleared of breaching anti-hunting legislation.

Mr Innes now lives in England and is master of the South Dorset Hunt.

Mr Adams, from Melrose, was the first person to go on trial accused of breaking the Protection of Wild Mammals Act, introduced in 2002.

It is good news for hunting in Scotland because it shows we were acting within the bounds of the law all the time
Rory Innes

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

Both huntsmen could have faced six months in jail or a fine of up to 5,000 if they had been convicted of deliberately hunting a fox with dogs.

Mr Innes said: "I am glad it is all over because it has been a hell of a burden hanging over for me for almost two years.

"It is good news for hunting in Scotland because it shows we were acting within the bounds of the law all the time."

England fears

But Mr Innes said he was worried about forthcoming legislation set to be introduced in England.

He said: "It is different legislation that is planned for England. Hunting is to be banned full stop.

"It means I will be out of a job and out of a house but that is something for another day."

A fox
The Act aims to ensure the humane control of foxes

In Scotland, the legislation permits the use of dogs for pest control measures as long as they are flushing foxes from cover so they can be shot.

Mr Innes had been charged with deliberately hunting a fox with several dogs at a hunt in the Borders on 1 March, 2003.

He had been scheduled to stand trial in the spring.

Police have investigated a number of alleged breaches of the Act by hunts but the only prosecutions have been brought against Mr Adams and Mr Innes.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser confirmed the case had been dropped against Mr Innes.

He also confirmed there would be no appeal from the Crown against Mr Adams' not guilty verdict.

A spokesman for the Scottish Countryside Alliance welcomed the decision, saying it vindicated its position.

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