Today sees the conclusion of deliberations on three separate challenges to the Hunting Act, although rulings may be some time yet.
Firstly the campaign, spearheaded by the Countryside Alliance, to have their case against the validity of the Parliament Act reviewed is being considered by the House of Lords today and tomorrow, after being thrown out of the Court of Appeal in February.
The new appeal is brought in the name of three petitioners: John Jackson, Chairman of the Countryside Alliance; Mair Hughes, a blacksmith’s wife from Glamorgan, and Patrick Martin, Huntsman of the Oxfordshire-based Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt. Sir Sydney Kentridge QC will lead the legal team.
Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart said today: “The challenge to the Parliament Act is not about hunting – it’s about the constitutional arrangements of our country and respect for the law. The judgements from the Administrative Court and the Appeal Court pointed to the great constitutional importance of this case.
“This is the final and critical stage of this challenge. If our arguments are rejected by the Lords and they decide that the 1949 Parliament Act is valid, we live in a country which could effectively be governed by a single-chamber legislature, where there are no checks or balances to protect the public and constitution of this country.”
The Lords will consider the evidence today and tomorrow and their judgement is expected in the coming weeks. Also today the summing up on another two appeals in the Royal Courts of Justice is due, after it was postponed following Thursday’s bombings in London. This is a double-pronged attack which fights the ban citing the Human Rights Act, and, in a separate challenge, says the ban is illegal under European Commission law.
The judgements on these cases are also expected in a few weeks, although the final summing up may give some clue as to the outcome. A spokesperson for the Alliance said they are in good spirits, and hope for decency to prevail.
“A mature democracy such as ours should safeguard the rights of minorities. It is a sad state of affairs when the Government allows discrimination, prejudice and political expediency to come before principle, evidence and decency, as it has done in forcing through the Hunting Act. It is now down to the courts to protect the human rights of the hunting community and, by extension, those of other minorities,” added Mr Hart.