Two huntsmen have been found guilty of illegally hunting under the Hunting Act.

Quantock Staghounds huntsman Richard Down and whipper-in Adrian Pillivant were convicted at Bristol Magistrates Court this morning after video evidence of the pair hunting deer at a meet in Somerset last February – filmed by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) – was shown to the court.

The duo were each fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,000 towards costs. H&H understands that they are likely to appeal.

The prosecution, which was the second brought against a hunt under the Act, was brought privately by LACS and hinged on the flushing exemption.

District Judge David Parsons rejected the pair’s claim that they were hunting within the law, describing their claims as “disingenuous”.

But Countryside Alliance chief Simon Hart said that the pair had acted “entirely responsibly.”

See next week’s H&H for in-depth coverage on this story, including views from the hunting field and a QC’s perspective, on sale 14 June, ’07