Three members of the College Valley and North Northumberland were found guilty of one charge under the 2004 Hunting Act yesterday (14 October).

Joint-masters Ian McKie and Timothy Smalley and kennel huntsman Andrew Proe all appeared at Berwick Magistrates Court in connection with an incident on 27 February.

The three had been secretly filmed by League Against Cruel Sports investigators during a meet of the College Valley and North Northumberland in and around West Kyloe Farm near Lowick.

District Judge Bernard Begley concluded that they had intentionally hunted a fox by encouraging hounds to chase it.

The defendants had argued they were following a legal scent trail of fox urine laid that morning and the foxes were disturbed unintentionally.

McKie was fined £1,150 and must pay a £115 victim surcharge and £385 court costs. Smalley’s fine was £2,075 with a victim surcharge of £120 and £385 court costs.

Proe must pay a £480 fine with a £48 victim surcharge and £385 costs. A fourth member was acquitted.

Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said: “We are surprised by this judgement and will support the individuals from the College Valley in whatever further action they may decide to take.

“We believe that the hunt was operating openly and that no attempt was made to break the Hunting Act.”