- By Norman Fine
A Master and whipper-in, both of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Foxhounds accused in the Jedburgh Sheriff Court on October 8th of breaching Scotland’s fox-hunting laws, were found not guilty by Sheriff Peter Paterson on December 8, 2018.
The five-day trial of Huntsman Timothy Allen, MFH, and whipper-in Shaun Anderson centered on video recordings covertly filmed by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports.
Since no footage of the fox included any images of huntsman Allen, and images of Allen included no images of the fox, the court found there was no case to answer on Allen’s part. Foxhunters in Scotland may lawfully flush a fox to a gun, but are prohibited from chasing them. Allen was told he was free to leave the dock.
Whipper-in Anderson, in his turn, claimed he did all he could to control hounds when the fox emerged. Since Scotland’s Hunting Act prohibits the deliberate pursuit of a fox by hounds, and absent proof of a deliberate chase, Sheriff Paterson found insufficient evidence for a conviction and pronounced Anderson not guilty as well.
The Sheriff went on to criticize the language of the current hunting legislation regarding the search for and flushing of foxes. So what is in the future?
Both pro- and anti-hunting activists in Scotland and England decry the current hunting legislation and recommend changes. Obviously, the legislation changes recommended by each side are incompatible.
Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said he was pleased that both Allen and Anderson had been found not guilty and noted the frustration involved for all when cases end up in court with little or no evidence against them. Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, declared that the legislation is not fit for the purpose and needs to be strengthened.
Since the Scottish hunting act was introduced sixteen years ago, there has been just one successful prosecution against mounted foxhunting.
Posted December 11, 2018