The hunting community has restored faith in the British Judicial system, following the overturning of Tony Wright’s conviction for illegal hunting.

Last Friday, Exmoor huntsman Tony Wright was found not guilty of hunting a mammal with dogs. He was the first huntsman to be convicted of breaching the Hunting Act, in August 2006. It was a prosecution brought privately by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).

Last Friday, Mr Wright was cleared of hunting illegally by Judge Graham Cottle sitting in Exeter Crown Court.

Stephen Lambert, chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association told H&H: “It has restored our faith in the judicial system because Tony Wright was always innocent. He’d set out to hunt completely within the law, the verdict, even if you’re biased as we are, is the correct one.

“This judgement highlights how complicated and difficult the Hunting Act is, and the difficulties hunt staff have to work with. Judge Cottle shares our views that the Hunting Act is a very bad piece of legislation.”

Speaking exclusively to H&H, Tony Wright said it was a relief that the case is over.

“It’s a relief, that’s the big thing. It’s nice that it’s all over, but it’s nice that I am proved to be an innocent man, which I have always said I was,” he said.

“If anything has come out of my two cases it has proved that the law is very vague on a number of points.

There was no way that I would break the law. I didn’t want to put the future of our hounds in jeopardy, so why would I have gone out to flout the law?”

Read an extract of Judge Cottle’s statement

For further analysis of the case, read this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (6 December, ’07)