The case against four members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds has been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service who were due to stand trial in February 2015. Huntsman Donald Summersgill and Joint masters Rupert Andrews and David Greenwood faced a total of four charges of hunting a wild mammal with a dog, contrary to S1 of the Hunting Act 2004. The charges related to two separate incidences of alleged illegal hunting on the 14th September and 24th October 2013. The case had been based on evidence supplied by League Against Cruel Sports and further investigations carried out by Avon and Somerset police. The League is writing to complain to the CPS as it strongly believes that the footage captured by its investigators containing various evidential issues invalidating the Research and observation exemption have been overlooked. These include both hunt meets being advertised in advance and details placed on the hunt’s website, over 100 supporters out watching the hunting activities taking place (strongly suggesting that the primary purpose of the hunting was sport and recreation) hunt hounds not being under close control and the hunt trespassing on League land while in pursuit of a stag.
Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League said: “How on earth can chasing a wild mammal to exhausion be considered as genuine research and observation? The decision taken to drop the case against members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds needs immediate explanation. We urge the public to watch the footage for themselves and make up their own minds as to whether the primary purpose of the hunt members’ actions was for sport or research”. See footage at the Youtube link below.