This morning saw two new appeals against the validity of the Hunting Act begin at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
The first appeal is on human rights grounds with 10 claimants appealing against the Hunting Act, claiming that it breaches four articles of the Human Rights Act: the right to property and the uses of that property; the right to respect for private and family life; freedom of assembly, and association and prohibition of discrimination.
The barristers acting for these claimants will also argue that the restrictions imposed by the Hunting Act cannot be justified and that no legitimate aim has been clearly identified by the proponents of a ban.
The barristers acting for the claimants are Richard Gordon QC and Richard Lissack QC. The claimants are Donald Summerskill, a huntsman with the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, Lesley Drage, who owns a livery yard, Roger Bigland, a terrierman with the North Cotswold Hunt, Colin Dayment, a farrier, Kim Gooding a hare coursing trainer, Joe Cowen, a landowner and Master of Foxhounds, Ken Jones, a Welsh sheep farmer, Richard May, a beagle pack owner, Giles Bradshow, a farmer, and Jason Vickery, a tenant dairy farmer.
The second challenge is on European Community law grounds, and the main thrust of this case is to argue that the hunting ban is having a major and practical impact on cross border economic activity, which is a fundamental right enjoyed by all citizens of EU member states.
John Jackson of the Countryside Alliance said outside the Courts today: “We maintain that the Hunting Act is a bad Act and it was passed in a bad way. Our first challenge to the validity of this Act is going to be considered next week at the Highest Court in the Land, but we are continuing to challenge the nature of this Act in different ways because it infringes upon the basic freedoms protected by the Human Rights Act.
“There is simply no case for arguing that hunting acts against the public interest, so we have high hopes that the basic freedoms we are all entitled to will be recognised,” he added.
Colin Dayment, a farrier, and one of the claimants on the Human Rights challenge said he was inspired to get involved with the case because it is not just his business under threat but his whole way of life.
“What I am here for is not just to try and save my business, but to save my community and my social life. Hunting is tied up with the entire way I live, and if it remains illegal I will be out of a job, and the structure of my life will fall apart,” he said this morning.
These new challenges are set to take a week to be heard, while the House of Lords is due to hear the appeal of the Alliance’s original challenge to the Parliament Act next Wednesday and Thursday (13 and 14 July).