The saboteurs were acquitted in April of aggravated trespass, following the defence team’s successful exploitation of a legal grey area. The team argued that because the shoot had five or more employees, it fell under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. Lack of a written risk assessment meant the shoot itself was technically illegal. Shooting organisations and the police are now using the start of the pheasant shooting season as an opportunity to reiterate the importance of risk assessments, as April’s judgement set a precedent for future cases of aggravated trespass. “The Brindle case showed the need for shoots to have their health and safety provisions in order,” Jill Grieve, of the Countryside Alliance, told ST. She added: “It sticks in the craw that activists who were arrested and prosecuted for disrupting a lawful activity under aggravated trespass should get off on a technicality. It is in everyone’s interests that this never happens again and that, in the unhappy event of antis disrupting shoots, those involved are brought to justice and not allowed to walk free while shoots are left to count the cost.”

The rest of this article appears in 9 October issue of Shooting Times.

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