British Court Rejects Latest Fox Hunting Appeal

In July, the UK’s High Court rejected a second appeal by fox hunting supporters to overturn the 2004 Hunting Act. That act banned fox hunting with dogs.

In their appeal, the Countryside Alliance argued that the Hunting Act violated the European Convention on Human Rights because it was a “sectarian measure.” Essentially, they argued that the hunting ban was an irrational, ideologically-motivated law akin to, say, a ban on a specific religious practice just because it was practiced by a minority of citizens.

Countryside Alliance’s lawyer, Richard Gordon, had argued that,

What emerges strongly, however the argument is put, is, we suggest, the very divisive nature of the legislation.

Many members of the House of Commons voting on the issue obviously objected strongly to hunting on doctrinal grounds – that is clear.

But we say strong feelings cannot be, and are not in law, a substitute for the exercise that has to be undertaken before Convention rights can be legitimately interfered with.

. . .

We say, if one takes away the strength of feeling from the furor over hunting, very little is left in terms of law, and a total ban of this kind is not justified.

The High Court soundly rejected that line of reasoning. Justices May and Moses said that there was varying opinion about whether or not foxes suffer more when hunted by dogs vs. when they are shot, but that the legislature had a legitimate reason to address this issue. They said,

We consider that there was sufficient material available to the House of Commons for them to conclude that hunting with dogs is cruel.

. . .

[It was] reasonably open to the majority of the democratically-elected House of Commons to conclude that this measure was necessary in the democratic society which had elected them.

The Countryside Alliance bemoaned the verdict, with its chairman John Jackson telling the BBC,

The judges have accepted that there is interference with some of the claimants’ rights, and that the Hunting Act will have a substantial general adverse effect on the lives of many in the rural community.

However, the court, ignoring events in the Commons and the Lords, appears to have proceeded on the assumption that Parliament had a legitimate aim and has itself then speculated on what that may have been.

Whether the court is right to have proceeded in this way is plainly a controversial question./p>

Animal rights advocates, on the other hand, were very pleased. John Cooper, chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, told The Guardian,

We welcome this recognition that there is no human right to be cruel. The Hunting Act is a popular act, the ban is being enforced and, most importantly, animals are no longer able to be abused in the name of this barbaric bloodsport. This is a resounding defeat for the hunters, who need to move forward and accept the democratic will of parliament and the majority of the general public, and learn to take non for an answer.

The Countryside Alliance is still waiting for the Law Lords in the House of Lords to rule on its appeal of the High Court’s February rejection of its argument that the Hunting Act is in violation of Great Britain’s Parliament Act.

There are likely to be further appeals, but at the moment, the odds of the fox hunting advocates actually prevailing seems pretty slim.


High court rejects hunting ban challenge. Press Association, July 29, 2005.

Hunt campaign loses court battle. The BBC, July 29, 2005.

Hunting ban ‘a sectarian measure’. Liverpool Daily Post, July 5, 2005.

Animal Rights Activists Nails Problems with Anti-Hunting Legislation

As everyone reading this is probably well aware, the ban on hunting foxes with hounds finally went into effect in Great Britain earlier this month. Although pro-hunting groups still have some limited legal options left, it is likely that the opponents of fox hunting will prevail and fox hunting with hounds will enter a very odd quasi-legal status, given the likely lack of enthusiasm on the part of police to enforce the ban and the confusion that the ban creates about what is and is not a legal hunt.

Shortly after the ban finally went into effect, The Daily Post published a profile of League Against Cruel Sports and North Wales Animal Rights activist Judi Hewitt which, to my mind, really did a nice job of inadvertently summing up the idiocy of the anti-hunt position.

Characterizing defenders of hunting as “evil people” Hewitt told The Daily Post,

The ban was good news, but I can’t understand how some limited hunting will still be allowed. All killing of wildlife should end, and I can’t stop until it does. The hunters complain about their civil rights — but what about the civil rights of those who want to visit the countryside without seeing innocent creatures horribly killed?

So let me get this straight — Hewitt won’t rest until rural areas are free of “all killing of wildlife” but she’s taken up the standard on behalf of foxes? She wants to be spared “seeing innocent creatures horribly killed” in natural settings, but comes to the aid of one of the cleverest hunters in the animal kingdom, the fox? (Foxes will, for example, engage in what is euphemistically called “surplus hunting” — killing far more prey than it can eat at the time in order to bury the carcasses and dig them up later).

How does Hewitt get from the proposition that killing wildlife is wrong to the completely contradictory proposition that foxes are “innocent”? Why do people become “evil” when they simply do to the fox what the fox has no problem at all doing to “innocent” birds and rodents?

Somebody wake me up when these people start making sense.


No rest for ‘evil people’. Andrew Forgrave, Daily Post, February 17, 2005.

Virgin Atlantic Asked to Stop Transportation of Hunting Rifles

A number of animal rights groups, including the UK’s League Against Cruel Sports and the US-based Kinship Circle are trying to convince Virgin Atlantic to ban the transportation of sports rifles.

In a press release on the campaign, LACS’ Annette Crosbie said

Given the steps Sir Richard Branson has taken to protect wildlife on Virgin Group properties in Britain and South Africa, allowing sports rifles to be carried by the airline he founded could be viewed as verging on the hypocritical.

Crosbie is alluding to a wildlife preserve that Branson owns where hunting is not allowed.

Kinship Circle distributed a sample letter to Branson which read, in part,

UK and EU hunters annually decimate thousands of endangered animals to import their body parts for ornamental use on walls of boardrooms and living rooms. Trophy hunters typically prefer to bag “prizes” with their own weapons.

These powerful rifles do not belong on airplanes — whether they will be used to gun down animals or commit some other form of violence. Please consider security issues, as well as your apparent concern for wildlife.

Both Kinship Circle and the League Against Cruel Sports make much of the fact that Ryanair and BMI Baby have both agreed not to transport hunting rifles. Of course the issue is practically moot for both airlines since they are small carriers who provide service only within western Europe.


Ask UK airline to ban trophy hunt rifles. Kinship Circle, September 27, 2004.

Richard Branson urged to “take the thrill out of the kill”. Press Release, League Against Cruel Sports, August 2004.

Dogs from Hunt Club Allegedly Attack Hunt Opponent

In January, League Against Cruel Sports member Chris Owen told police that was attacked in his back yard by a pack of dogs apparently owned by the Cheshire Hunt.

On January 10 a pack of about 20 dogs charged onto Owen’s property, frightening his wife and two children. Owen himself suffered bite on the hand and a scratch on his face.

Although there is some grey area in the law, it appears that whoever was responsible for the dogs might face criminal charges and a possible six month prison term. Even if police don’t press charges, Owen told The Cheshire Chronicle that he plans to pursue the matter,

. . . even if the CPS doesn’t want to prosecute, I will take out a private prosecution anyway. I would not have taken it further except they publicly accused me of lying.

In fact the Chronicle quoted Cheshire Hunt joint master Richard Thomas as saying that the complaint was simply an effort by Owen to gain publicity. Thomas said,

It’s a large publicity stunt by the League Against Cruel Sports. I don’t think there is anything in it at all. If there was an injury attributable to the hounds, the police would have taken it further.


Hunting attack dog test case. Chester Chronicle, February 6, 2004.

Hounds attacked me in my garden. David Holmes, Chester Chronicle, January 16, 2004.

Hunt Supporter Threatens Libel Lawsuit Against Opponents

Hunt supporter Iain Harris, 66, announced in August that he plans to sue opponents of hunting foxes with hounds who describe such hunts as “cruel.”

Harris told the Western Morning News (Plymouth),

This is nothing to do with trying to save hunting or with the Countryside Alliance – it is about objecting to being called cruel. I am delighted with the support we have for a joint action which we are very serious about.

As far as I am concerned this is personal and I am furious that I have been smeared. I go hunting, which is my legal and just right to do, and I do not cause any damage, I behave properly and I am certainly not cruel to any animals.

. . .

We are sick and tired of people getting away with it and other people believing they are right.” Mr Harris said he had hunted all his life, and that it gave him the opportunity to follow the hounds and ride across country where he would not normally be allowed to go.

. . .

That is the top and bottom of hunting for the majority of people. I have never done anything cruel in my life. It is nothing to do with hunting, it is about the fact that I go hunting, and I am described because of that as being cruel.

Harris claims that he has consulted with lawyers who told him he may have a case, and given the UK’s loopy libel and slander laws he may. On the other hand, even if successful, such a lawsuit would probably simply garner public support for opponents of the hunt.

As Peter Anderson of the League Against Cruel Sports told the Western Morning News,

Let him sue. All the independent MORI opinion polls which we have had carried out have consistently shown 70 per cent of the country think hunting is cruel and want it to be banned.

They are going to need a few more than 7,000 people offering support to take everyone to court.

League Against Cruel Sports head Douglas Batchelor expanded on those views telling the Western News,

Suggestions that hunters have a case against those people and organizations that say hunting is cruel have no basis in law.There is and should be no freedom to be cruel.

The legal definition of cruelty is the causing of unnecessary suffering. A cruel act is cruel, whether it be by design or neglect. Hunting with dogs is based on practices which are inherently cruel.

While Mr. Harris and others may want to use the law to silence those who oppose the deliberate cruelty of chasing wild mammals with dogs for sport, most members of the public have a very clear understanding of the cruelty of hunting. That is why, on their behalf, MPs have voted to ban it and to make it a crime. If Mr. Harris wishes to swell our campaign coffers by funding our costs when he loses, we will be happy to meet him in court.

A couple weeks after announcing his lawsuit, Harris reported receiving death threats from hunting opponents. Harris told the Press Association, however, that the threats would not deter his lawsuit,

We have got cameras all around the property recording everything that moves.

Regardless, the proposed lawsuit is simply a bad idea all around and should not be pursued.


Anti-hunt groups react to libel threat. Western Morning News (Plymouth), August 11, 2003.

Legal fight looms over ‘cruel’ hunting claims. Nathan Pynn, Western Morning News (Plymouth), August 12, 2003.

Hunt supporter threatens to sue over cruelty claims. Richard Savill, The Daily Telegraph (London), August 14, 2003.

Hunt-Follower Receives Telephone Threats. Chris Court, Press Association News, August 23, 2003.

League Against Cruel Sports Gets New President

Annette Crosbie recently became the new president of the UK-based League Against Cruel Sports, which is actively engaged in campaigns against fox hunting, stag hunting, hare coursing and hunting, and mink hunting. Crosbie also runs Greyhounds UK which seeks tighter regulation of greyhound racing in the UK.

Crosbie summed up her philosophy by telling The Mirror’s David Edwards,

When I think about it, I think humans are the nastiest species of animal on the planet . . .

Crosbie is a whole-hearted proponent of animal rights terrorism, including activists who break into labs and campaigns of harassment such as those carried out by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. Crosbie told The Mirror,

The campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences has been very clever — to frighten the banks into backing off is wonderful.

. . .

Apart from rescuing animals [during break-ins at laboratories] they [activists who commit such acts] focus people’s attention on what’s going on. You cannot get politicians to pay attention until you get out on the streets and do something.

Describing how she will go about directing the campaign against hunting, Crosbie said,

Of course as the new president, people will say I’m just an ageing luvvie getting in on the act, but I won’t be paying much attention to things like that and, goodness knows, I’m not afraid of ruffling a few feathers.

But I’m not worried about that. You see, I’m impatient, intolerant, judgmental, tactless — I’m not very nice, I’m really not. And if you don’t do it my way, by God you’ll be sorry.

Well, at least there will be five things that animal rights activists and hunters will be able to agree about Crosbie.


I’ll be victor in the fight for animal rights . . . and you’d better believe it; Annette Crosbie on her most important role. David Edwards, The Mirror (UK), Jan. 10, 2003.