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The charges are brought under a private prosecution by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Both face allegations of hunting hares with dogs and attending two events near Malton, North Yorkshire, in March; one at the village of Nunnington and the other at nearby Amotherby.

Liz Mort, of the National Coursing Club, was not surprised by IFAW’s tactics: “It would seem that IFAW is resorting to using ‘names’ to get five minutes of media attention for something that would otherwise be of very little interest to the general public.”

Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance, agreed.

He told Shooting Times: “Given IFAW’s track record of PR stunts, it is no surprise they are trying to drag highprofile people into the case.”