Law needs strengthened they say
Campaigners have said it is “no surprise” a former hunt master has been found not guilty of illegal fox hunting.
David Lee Peters, former master of the Jedburgh Hunt, denied deliberately hunting a wild mammal on land near Dunion Hill in the Scottish Borders on 17 December 2019 was found not guilty earlier this week.
On delivering his verdict, Sheriff Peter Paterson criticised the act saying it was “difficult to interpret”, adding: “There are many other difficulties of the act which are not relevant for today's consideration”.
In the 19 years since the act was introduced, there has only been one successful prosecution for mounted fox hunting.
The League Scotland has been working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure the law is strengthened and loopholes closed in order to prevent hunts evading prosecution.
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, Scotland said: “The verdict comes as absolutely no surprise. The law is woefully inadequate which is illustrated by just one successful prosecution in almost two decades.
“Another not guilty verdict under this flawed piece of legislation, and yet again Sheriff Paterson recognising how difficult it is to prosecute under it, emphatically endorses our view that the law which supposedly bans hunting in Scotland needs strengthening.
“It is in no one’s interests to waste endless hours of court time debating whether or not hounds were deliberately allowed to chase a fox - the law needs to be far clearer than it is currently to allow effective and time efficient prosecutions of those who continue to ride roughshod over the law.”
The Scottish Government has repeatedly committed to bring forward a bill to strengthen current legislation and really ban fox hunting in Scotland.
The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 has faced relentless criticism for a number of loopholes in the law which has made prosecution almost impossible, allowing hunts to continue hunting very much as they did before the law passed.
The forthcoming bill was dropped due to time constraints as a result of Covid but is expected after the election in May.
Marlsand added: “We are very pleased that the Scottish Government has repeatedly committed to introducing a bill to close loopholes in the existing law and we would urge them to make this a priority in the new parliament.”