with Horse and Hound

Foxhunters Acquitted; Repeal the Ban Says Defense Solicitor


A British defense solicitor has called for an end to the hunting ban in England because too many prosecutions are thrown out for lack of evidence. Passion, yes, he says. Evidence, no.

A Master and huntsman from the Weston and Barnwell Harriers and his whipper-in were recently acquitted in court of charges leveled by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). The League presented a video that their Chief Executive Joe Duckworth said, “Clearly shows evidence of illegal foxhunting.”

The judge, however, said the ninety-seconds of footage showed drag hunting, using a cloth soaked in fox urine, and the hounds were stopped before reaching a live fox.

The exonerated Master and huntsman, George Milton, has been unsuccessfully accused four times in a period of only twelve months by LACS. He has suffered through two trials costing in the six figures.

Milton’s defence solicitor, Jamie Foster, sees the case as another blow for the League Against Cruel Sports. In an OpEd piece in the Western Morning News, Foster writes, “While I have nothing against anyone’s deeply held beliefs, the criminal court is not the place for those beliefs to be relied upon. A court demands cogent evidence, and, yet again, [LACS] was unable to provide it.

“In the end, justice was done but at a considerable cost. The League must have spent in excess of £100,000 of charitable donations on the case. The police, the CPS and the court all had to commit public money to it and the taxpayer faces a hefty bill for the legal costs run up by George and Toby in their defence. It is impossible to see how any of this expense can possibly be justified by a case in which a fox, two minutes ahead of the hounds was pursued for less than the length of a single field and would never have been aware of the existence of its pursuers. Surely it is time to repeal this legislation and allow the League to go back to waving placards and gnashing their teeth freeing up the criminal courts to deal with matters that really are in the public interest to prosecute.”

Posted May 15, 2014