Despite mounting a legal defence suspected to have cost tens of thousands of pounds, two members of an East Midlands hunt have today been convicted of animal cruelty offences.
Richard Down, huntsman for the Quantock Staghounds was convicted at Taunton Magistrates Court of an offence under the Hunting Act 2004. He is the first huntsman to be convicted twice under the Act.
Official figures released today show convictions almost doubled in 2009 compared with 2008. Fifty-seven people were convicted of offences under the Hunting Act in 2009, according to Ministry of Justice figures, bringing to a total of 145 the number of people convicted between the coming into force of the Act in February 2005 an the end of 2009.
TV chef and 'Fat Lady' Clarissa Dickson-Wright and race horse trainer Sir Mark Prescott were today convicted on hare coursing charges following a private prosecution by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).
Alistair Robinson, a terrierman for the Ullswater Foxhounds, was found guilty in Penrith Magistrate's court of breaching Section 1 of the Hunting Act.
The European Courts have dismissed the challenge to the Hunting Act made by the Countryside Alliance and Brian Friend in a landmark ruling.
The Countryside Alliance recently sent a letter to Chief Constables suggesting that if the police accept evidence gathered by NGOs such as the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), through directed surveillance which is not authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), both the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service may be liable under the Human Rights Act.