Hunt appeal dismissed, with VIDEO

WATCH footage from the video filmed by anti-hunt campaigners to help secure a conviction for two employees of the Fernie Hunt.

Filmed by hunt monitors from the League Against Cruel Sports, the film was shown in both the original court case before magistrates in January this year, and the appeal hearing last week.

You can watch it here.

Huntsman Derek Hopkins and terrierman Kevin Allen lost the appeal following a five-day hearing at Leicester Crown Court.

Judge Michael Pert QC told the court that Hopkins and Allen, employees of the Great Bowden-based Fernie Hunt, had pretended they were following a trail scent in order to cover up the illegal pursuit of a fox.

Dismissing their appeal against convictions for breaching the ban on hunting, Judge Pert said: “It may be that they [hunt supporters] feel the day will come when this [Hunting] Act is repealed and they may be correct but the law is the law.

“Their conduct amounted to cynical subterfuge.

“The notion of trail hunting was a cover.”

The five-day appeal, which concluded on Friday afternoon, followed the convictions of huntsman Hopkins (46) and terrierman Allen (51) at Harborough Magistrates’ Court earlier this year.

The charges were illegally hunting a mammal with a dog and interfering with a badger sett.

The appeal was shown footage taken by hunt monitors from the League Against Cruel Sports of a hunt near Stonton Wyville on January 27 last year.

Hopkins and Allen had maintained they were hunting an artificial trail during the incident.

They said they had dug into a hole to legally shoot a fox that had gone to ground and that it did not appear to be an occupied badger sett.

However Judge Pert told the court: “We found [Hopkins] an unconvincing and unimpressive witness.

“Allen was even less impressive. We found him shifty and evasive. It was plainly a badger sett in current use.

When originally convicted, Hopkins and Allen were ordered to pay fines and court costs of £2,115 and £1,565 respectively.

Both will now have to pay out thousands in additional court fees for bringing the case to appeal - £3,630 for Hopkins and £2,730 for Allen.

Speaking after the verdict, Tim Bonner of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFA), said: “We are extremely disappointed, especially in relation to the Protection of Badgers Act convictions. We maintain that it was not an active badger sett.”

The Fernie Hunt and the other members of the MFA continually review their working practices, he added.

Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, described the appeal as ‘ridiculous’.

“Anyone who sees this film will see the clear actions of a hunt intent on pursuing a fox,” he added.