Three hunts have been facing legal proceedings in the past month, although two cases have been dropped and the other has been adjourned.

Tom Holt, joint-master of the Middleton Hunt, appeared before Scarborough Magistrates on 3 September, charged with an offence under the Hunting Act 2004.

The 28-year-old is accused of hunting a wild mammal with dogs in West Knapton, near Malton on 19 February.

Mr Holt pleaded not guilty and the case has been adjourned until 25 September.

Meanwhile, 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 Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), follows 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.

“This case was based on completely spurious allegations made by animal rights activists, but there was no credible evidence that the sett was being used by anything other than foxes,” said the Countryside Alliance’s Tim Bonner.

“The three men were carrying out legal hunting within the terms of the Hunting Act.”

The CPS has also confirmed that all charges relating to members of the Melbreak Hunt — including their huntsman Edward Liddle — have also been dropped following an offence that allegedly took place under the Hunting Act and Dangerous Dog Act in Buttermere, Cumbria on 9 March.

Tim Bonner said: “Mr Liddle and the Melbreak cooperated fully with the police inquiries from the start and there was never any evidence that Mr Liddle had been in breach of either act, therefore we were surprised when Cumbria Constabulary chose to pursue their inquiries. It was even more inexplicable when the CPS then chose to bring charges against Mr Liddle.

“There was no chance that the case could ever have proceeded to a conviction and all it has achieved is a waste of police and court time and tax-payers’ money, and has put Mr Liddle through a completely unnecessary process.

“The Melbreak has operated within the law since the Hunting Act came into force and has huge support from the local community. We are very confident that their activities are entirely legitimate.”

This news story was first published in H&H magazine on 18 September 2014

  • Grania Haigh

    Wonderful photo heading this story.