The huntsman and whipper-in of the Quantocks Staghounds have been found guilty of illegal hunting in the second case brought against a hunt.

Richard Down, 36, and Adrian Pillivant, 44, were accused of breaching the Hunting Act 2004 on 16th February 2006.

The case rested on the first part of the ‘fifth condition’ of the ‘flushing exemption’, that reasonable steps are taken for the purpose of ensuring that after being found and flushed out, the wild mammal is shot dead by a competent person. However, the judge ruled that their belief that their hunting was ?exempt? was not ?reasonable?.

This case, which was a private prosecution by the League Against Cruel Sports, demonstrates just how confusing and difficult to interpret the Hunting Act is. Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart said ?Since the Hunting Act came into force the Quantock Staghounds have acted entirely responsiily. They consulted legal experts, the hunting authorities and the police. The judgement contrasts with all their interpretations of the Act?.

For more on this story see next week’s Shooting Times magazine