A court case against two members of the Lunesdale hunt collapsed yesterday (Wednesday 21 January) — just one day into a scheduled two-day trial.
Terrence “Ted” Potter, 63, of Orton, Penrith and Paul Whitehead, 53, of Sedbergh of the Lundesdale appeared at York Magistrates Court.
The case was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), on evidence provided by the League Against Cruel Sports.
Both had been accused of one charge of hunting a wild mammal with a dog on 18 February 2014, at Holly Platt Farm in Ingleton.
However, the case collapsed on the first day when the magistrates ruled there was no case to answer.
Following an application by the Lunesdale’s lawyer, Stephen Welford, they found there was no evidence that either man was present at the site on 18 February 2014.
“This is yet another example of a prosecution, pursued on the basis of vindictive allegations by animal rights activists, that fell apart as soon as it came under scrutiny,” said Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance.
“This case has cost Yorkshire taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds to no purpose other than once again highlighting why the Hunting Act needs to be repealed.”
Since January 2014 three Hunting Act cases that have failed — against the Melbreak, the Lunesdale and the Devon & Somerset Staghounds.
There have also been two fail under the Badgers Act too — Crawley and Horsham and York & Ainsty.
However, three members of the College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt were found guilty of illegally hunting a fox during a hunt meet at West Kyloe Farm, near Lowick, Northumberland on 27 February 2014.
A CA spokesman added: “The number of cases that fail in the courts are proof that the Hunting Act does not work. In the latest case, that of the Lunesdale, the two defendants were kept in limbo for a year before it came to court and the magistrates immediately threw the case out. There was no evidence that either man had even been in the area that day never mind to show them committing a crime and it should never have got to court.
“Both the CPS and police must look much more carefully at cases brought under the Hunting Act to weed out those being advanced by groups, like the League Against Cruel Sports, for reasons of prejudice rather than sound legal ones.”