The trial of four men connected with the Isle of Wight foxhounds was yesterday postponed.
Four barristers, two solicitors, four defendants and a District Judge at Portsmouth Magistrates Court could not agree on where the “burden of evidence” lies in the case. And an answer has been requested from the High Court.
The four men, huntsman Stuart Trousdale, falconer Jamie Butcher and amateur whipper-in Liam Thom are charged with hunting a fox with dogs. Field master Malcolm Purcell is charged with hunting with dogs in the case, which is a private prosecution brought by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).
Tim Bonner, spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, explained.
“In some hunting cases it’s been up to the defence to prove they were hunting within the conditions [of the Hunting Act],” he said. “But in other cases it’s been up to the prosecution to prove the hunt wasn’t hunting within the conditions.”
The case has been adjourned until May, provisionally, until a decision on the burden of evidence is made in the High Court.
The case of three men connected with the Devon and Somerset Staghounds appearing in court next week charged with illegal hunting is also to be postponed.
Master Maurice Scott, hunstman Donald Summersgill and second whip Peter Heard will appear in Taunton Magistrates Court in what is the first public prosecution of a hunt.