The first appeal to be heard under the Hunting Act has this afternoon proved unsuccessful.

Quantock Staghounds huntsman Richard Down and amateur whipper-in Adrian Pillivant were again found guilty of breaching the Hunting Act 2004 .

Down and Pillivant appealed against their June conviction of hunting a wild mammal with dogs. But the Countryside Alliance say today’s judgement at Taunton Crown Court allows hunts to keep hunting.

The case centred around the exemption, under the Hunting Act, of flushing a wild mammal using two dogs. It was a private prosecution, brought by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), using video evidence filmed in Somerset in February 2006.

But Countryside Alliance head Simon Hart said the judgement finally gives hunts a clear idea of what is “exempt hunting” following months of confusion.

“We remain convinced that Richard Down and Adrian Pillivant believed what they were doing on that day in February 2006 was legal hunting,” he said. “It cannot be reasonable to have expected these men to have interpreted a law, which even its supporters describe as ambiguous, in exactly the same way as a High Court Judge.

“But we also asked that the judge gave a framework for future exempt hunting and he did. The court has confirmed that, with adaptation, the Quantock Staghounds, and others who use this exemption, can continue to hunt.”

For full details of the judgement, reaction and analysis of the exemptions, read next week’s edition of Horse & Hound.