The Heythrop will be hunted by Charles Frampton, currently senior joint-master and huntsman of the Portman, next season.

His appointment follows a split at the Heythrop over the future of current huntsman Julian Barnfield.

The wrangle went public after Countryside Alliance chairman MP Kate Hoey intervened on Mr Barnfield’s behalf, writing to Heythrop chairman Mikey Elliot.

An extraordinary general meeting was held on Sunday (30 October) in Chipping Norton, and the vote as to who should hunt the pack was 207 to 163 in favour of Mr Frampton. Farmers had two votes and subscribers one.

Mr Frampton, who will also join the mastership, told H&H: “I am looking forward to coming to the Heythrop next season.”

Two Heythrop masters declined to comment on the situation.

Mr Barnfield, who appeared in court last month accused of breaking the Hunting Act, has hunted the Heythrop since 2005 and was at the Cotswold before that.

He said: “I’m pretty devastated. I have hunted hounds for 21 years and I don’t know what I am going to do next. It’s been a bloody battle – now I have to weigh up what’s best for my wife and kids.”

Mr Barnfield has been asked to stay on as kennel-huntsman but has not yet given the masters his decision.

He pleaded not guilty to breaching the Hunting Act, when he appeared at Banbury Magistrates’ Court on 25 October.

The case was adjourned until 9 December.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse and Hound (3 November, 2011)