Huntsman cleared of illegal hunting allegations

  • Another Hunting Act case, brought to court because of evidence supplied by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), failed in court today (Thursday 12 February).

    Middleton hunt master and huntsman Tom Holt, 28, was found not guilty of a Hunting Act offence during a trial at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court.

    Employees of LACS had filmed Mr Holt undercover on 19 February 2014 near Malton in North Yorkshire and made allegations of illegal hunting.

    The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) brought the prosecution but after after a one-day trial a district judge ruled there was not enough evidence.

    The court heard claims that the footage showed Mr Holt chasing a fox “with a pack of hounds as bugles blared”. Mr Holt maintained that the video had been taken while he was legally following a trail.

    Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance (CA), said: “This is the second failed hunt prosecution brought by North Yorkshire CPS on the basis of allegations made by LACS employees in a matter of weeks.

    “We are increasingly concerned that innocent people are being dragged through the courts at the behest of animal rights activists, and that taxpayers have to pick up the bill.

    “The police and CPS must urgently review their relationship with animal rights groups like LACS.

    “Allegations made by biased witnesses based on unauthorised covert surveillance are no basis for a sound prosecution.”

    Last month (21 January) another case brought by the CPS on LACS evidence collapsed at York Magistrates Court.

    Two members of the Lunesdale hunt — Terence “Ted” Potter and Paul Whitehead — were both accused of one charge of hunting a wild mammal with a dog on 18 February 2014

    However, following an application by the Lunesdale’s lawyer Stephen Welford, the magistrates ruled there was no case to answer as there was no evidence that either man was even present on the day in question.

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