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Three hunts face prosecution under the Hunting Act 2004 for incidents that allegedly took place last season.

Representatives from the Fernie hunt, the Sinnington Foxhounds and the Quantock Staghounds face charges of illegal hunting brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Their trials are expected to take place this autumn and all proceed from covert surveillance by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Sinnington huntsman Tony Winter and whippers-in Caroline Scott and Wilf Gamble pleaded not guilty to a charge of unlawful hunting, at Scarborough Magistrates Court on 23 July.

Quantock Staghounds’ huntsman Richard Down faces charges of unlawful hunting, at Taunton Magistrates’ Court.

Solicitor Tim Hayden, representing the pack, told H&H: “The prosecution relates to an incident at Dens Coombe on the Quantocks on 21 September 2009. The hearing is likely to be in October or November.”

Fernie huntsman Derek Hopkins and terrierman Kevin Allen are due to enter a plea at Market Harborough Magistrates Court on Thursday, 19 August.

The charges relate to alleged offences on 27 January at Thorpe Langton, near Market Harborough under the Hunting Act 2004 and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 .

Fernie joint-master Joe Cowen told H&H that Mr Allen and Mr Hopkins learned of their prosecutions via the press.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 July, ’10)