Charges against a West Country hunt have been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The charges related to alleged incidents of hunting with dogs against the huntsman and two joint-masters of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.
Donald Summersgill, Rupert Andrews MSH and David Greenwood MSH faced a total of four charges relating to alleged incidents on 14 September and 24 October 2013.
Avon and Somerset CPS brought the charges based on unauthorised covert surveillance evidence supplied by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), however the defendants solicitors were advised last Thursday (13 November) that the charges had been dropped.
A previous prosecution involving Mr Summersgill and other Devon and Somerset Staghounds members collapsed before trial in 2009.
“This case has always been fundamentally flawed and the decision to bring charges was very difficult to understand,” said Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance.
“Avon and Somerset CPS have brought three prosecutions based on LACS covert surveillance in the past two years and all three have now failed.
“It has taken far too long, but at least now the CPS has finally stood up to the inappropriate pressure being exerted by animal rights organisations and saved the taxpayer the cost of a lengthy and pointless trial.
“The Devon and Somerset Staghounds have continued to research and manage the deer of Exmoor since the Hunting Act came into force nearly 10 years ago. After this second failed prosecution against them it is time for everyone to accept that their activities are entirely legal.”
Earlier this year charges against two other hunts were dropped.
Charges under the Protection of Badgers Act against three men connected to the York & Ainsty South Hunt were dropped on 8 September.
The case, brought by the CPS, followed on from an allegation made by hunt saboteurs that the accused were interfering with an active badger sett during a meet at Escrick Park, near Selby, North Yorks on 28 December 2013.
The same month the CPS confirmed that all charges relating to members of the Melbreak Hunt — including their huntsman Edward Liddle — were also dropped following an offence that allegedly took place under the Hunting Act and Dangerous Dog Act in Buttermere, Cumbria on 9 March.