A High Court bid to ban hunt protestors from land in West Sussex ground to a temporary and unexpected halt today.
The judge, Mr Justice Ross Cranston, adjourned the case after ruling he could not hear it because of what he had said as a Labour Party MP for Dudley North.
He described foxhunting as “not a sport, but a barbaric and cruel activity” in a statement to local newspaper, the Stourbridge News in December 2000. He went on to “welcome the chance to vote…and consign this brutal practice to the dustbin of history.”
Lawyers for the Crawley and Horsham hunt were seeking an injunction against the West Sussex Wildlife Protection group and its principal activists. The hunt claims the protestors have caused harassment to the hunt’s staff and followers.
Hunt barrister Tim Lawson-Cruttenden, argued before the judge today that the risk of an “appearance of bias” to members of the community could arise when a judge has taken part “publicly in a controversial or political discussion”.
In 2002 the judge also signed an Early Day Motion presented by the late Tony Banks MP, which urged Parliament to ban hunting. Revelation of the judge’s previously expressed views on hunting had not emerged until Sunday afternoon resulting in a hastily drawn up application to adjourn the case.