The Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) has brought its campaign to overturn the hunting ban in Scotland to a halt, in recognition of the fact that in spite of restrictions, hunts have been able to continue to operate within the bounds of the law.
An Appeal by Scottish hunters calling for judicial review of the 2002 Act which led to significant restrictions on hunting north of the border was dismissed by judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in June, but the SCA were given a lenient three months to decide whether they would take their appeal further.
“Scottish hunts are operating successfully within the new law and it is quite clear that there is growing support for hunting in Scotland,” explained Alan Murray of the SCA. “Whilst we are disappointed that our appeal [earlier this year] was not upheld, hunting has now been given a clear operational direction with the fox control protocol having been fully accepted.”
The fox control protocol was an element of the previous Appeal which was endorsed in the judgement at the end of May. It sets out for all the hunts, and the MFHA, exactly what they can and can’t do under the terms of the 2002 Act.
There has been concern that the economic impact of the ban in Scotland was taking a serious toll on rural communities, but as Amy Kenyon of the SCA explains, the situation is constantly improving.
“It was fairly dire when the legislation was first enforced, because what we basically saw was that a lot of people assumed that it was banned outright.
“Hunts were reduced pretty much to a 50% working capacity – they only had 50% of their original followers, and 50% of hounds.
“Now however, more people are coming back as they see how the legislation works”, she continues, “and we are hoping to see them eventually back at full capacity, or perhaps even more.
“There is anecdotal evidence to back up this view: the Dumfriesshire hunt, for example, folded completely but has recently reformed,” she added.
In a separate case, which finished today, Devon farmer Brian Friend mounted a fresh challenge to the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act. He is attempting to overturn an appeal judgement made by Judge Lord Brodie in 2003 that the Act does not breach hunt supporters’ human rights.
The Appeal, on behalf of the Union of Country Sports Workers, argues that the Act does infringe Mr Friend’s human rights. Although he is expecting his case to be dismissed by the Scottish Lords on this occasion, he is prepared to take his appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.
“Lord Brodie was wrong when he said that my cultural lifestyle was not part of my private life and a gypsy’s cultural lifestyle was” exclaimed Friend earlier this week.
Mr Friend, unusually, is representing himself at the Court of Session. “The judge apparently commended Mr Friend, as somebody who is not a member of a law society, for the wide appeal and presentation of his case” explained a spokesperson for the SCA.
A decision about Mr Friend’s Appeal has not yet been reached.