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Calls for the Hunting Act to be repealed are coming thick and fast from across the pro- and anti-hunting divide, following the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) decision to drop charges in another high-profile action for unlawful hunting.

Leader writers in the quality national press are suggesting the Hunting Act should be scrapped — The Sunday Telegraph went so far as to say it “discredits the British statute book”.

And even groups campaigning for an end to hunting admit they are “disappointed” by the legislation.

The CPS announced on Thursday (19 March) that it was abandoning proceedings against the Devon and Somerset Staghounds (D&S) in the wake of the High Court’s decision on the burden of proof (news, 12 February).

It follows the exoneration of Heythrop huntsman Julian Barnfield last week.

But Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “The Hunting Act has not gone away. The only way to clear up this mess is for Parliament to put it to rest and repeal this law.

“It’s very difficult to find anyone who will say this law is working. Independent observers have come to the view that it is a bad law and it shows our argument has merit.”

Stephen Lambert, chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), said: “We are delighted the CPS has dropped these cases — but there has been a lot of pressure on the people involved, who have always known their actions were completely lawful. The Hunting Act is now in tatters.”

For this article in full, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (26 March, ’09)

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