Legal action against hunt saboteurs by the Crawley & Horsham hunt and 80 landowners has been shelved a year after it was launched, with probable costs of £100,000 to hunting and little gained.
Funds for the test case were procured from the Countryside Alliance (CA) and Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), with around £20,000 from the Crawley & Horsham and other hunts.
But now the CA and the hunt have reached an agreement with the saboteurs to pay their costs — which amount to more than £60,000 — and drop the case.
“Continuing [the case] would be pointless,” said Crawley & Horsham joint-master Antony Sandeman.
“People will think we have cocked up and had to back off, but it’s not that. It’s the cost of the case and the length of time [it has been running].
“The evidence to prove our case is there and can be used if they return to their old tricks.”
The hunt first applied for an injunction in July 2008 to stop members of the West Sussex Wildlife Protection Group (WSWPG) trespassing on land and harassing hunt supporters (news, 19 June 2008).
The case was halted after judge Ross Cranston’s opposition to hunting was revealed.
In October 2008, the case went to the High Court, but on 22 October, it was abandoned when the judge found procedural problems with the case brought by the hunt’s barrister, Tim Lawson-Cruttendon.
He also threw out the allegations of nuisance and trespass, leaving only harassment to be answered (news, 30 October 2008).
But Mr Sandeman said their main aim had been realised — Simon and Jaine Wild of the WSWPG have stopped harassing the hunt, although they still monitor them.
Mr Wild says the CA and Crawley & Horsham have backed off due to evidence of unlawful hunting and harassment they claim to have against the hunt.
“They are seeking to save face now by saying we are complying with their wishes, but I behaved exactly in the same way last season as I have done before.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (23 July, ’09)