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UK court convicts fox hunter under new ban

[JURIST] A UK court on Friday found a man guilty of illegally fox hunting with dogs in the first criminal prosecution under Britain's Hunting Act 2004 [text]. The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) [advocacy website] brought a private prosecution [LACS case materials] against Tony Wright on a charge of hunting a fox in April 2005. District Judge Paul Palmer acknowledged that some forms of fox hunting are exempt under the law, but said that Wright had violated the law by hunting with two dogs and not keeping the dogs under close control. The law requires that a marksman be prepared to shoot fleeing foxes as soon as possible, but the prosecution alleged that Wright had hunted in a traditional style, which allows dogs to pursue foxes instead of shooting them immediately.

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge [JURIST report] brought by the Countryside Alliance [advocacy website] alleging that the fox hunting ban infringed on human rights that protect the right to private family life, peaceful assembly and freedom of association. Last year, Countryside lost [JURIST report] another challenge questioning the legality of the 1949 Parliament Act [BBC backgrounder], which was used by the House of Lords to push the Hunting Act through parliament. Countryside chief executive Simon Hart expressed disappointment about Friday's ruling, saying that Wright thought he was complying with the law, and expressed frustration that the hunting law does not clearly state what kinds of fox hunting are banned. The Guardian has more.

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