Hunters scent blood over stag ban
Friday 22 August 1997
The ban stayed in place but the National Trust was told by Mr Justice Robert Walker that the "speed and secrecy" with which it had been imposed last April represented a "serious error of judgment" which appeared to pander to media demands.
Leaving the way open for the hunt lobby to challenge the ban within weeks, the judge told the National Trust to go away and reconsider its decision to impose the ban on land on Exmoor and the Quantock Hills.
It was introduced following research by Professor Patrick Bateson, a Cambridge biologist, who proved that deer suffered excruciating pain and fear during a hunt.
Justice Robert Walker, sitting in London, said the National Trust had been preoccupied with reaching a quick decision because of media pressure and public outrage over Professor Bateson's research.
"That seems to have led to secrecy being preferred rather than the opportunity for further consultation and discussion," he said. He described as "questionable" a decision to hold a press conference the day before the ban was imposed and, although deciding not to impose an order, he suggested the council of the National Trust meet again before another hearing to avoid future "expensive" litigation.
Huntsmen were delighted with the judge's comments. Paddy Groves, joint master of the Quantock Staghounds, said they left the way open for a challenge to the ban under the Charities Act in the Chancery Division of the High Court. He expected a hearing within weeks.
"We did not get the injunction making the Trust re-introduce hunting, but everything else clearly went in our favour," he said. "The fact that the judge told them to go away and reconsider their decision is clearly very encouraging indeed. We have what we want - a legal mechanism to challenge the ban - and we believe we will soon have the deer herd of the Quantock Hills in safe hands very soon."
The National Trust's response was more muted. Warren Davis, its spokesman, said the ban still stands but he added: "The National Trust will give serious consideration to the judge's suggestion that its council should discuss the subject again.
"The welfare and conservation of the deer remains the Trust's primary concern and we will continue working with our tenants, neighbours, local deer management groups ... to ensure the herds continue to thrive."
The Trust owns a strategic parcel of land in the Quantock Hills of Somerset and one tenth of the Exmoor National Park in Devon.
The court was told that the Quantocks and Exmoor are popular with visitors but are difficult to farm. Those difficulties were made harsher by the presence of unchecked numbers of red deer which broke down fences and consumed or damaged crops.
The judge said that all the evidence he had heard showed that the deer must be culled to keep the herds healthy genetically and in the interests of the farming community.
Only 10 to 20 per cent of the deer were killed by hunting with hounds each year by packs which had been established from the last century.
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice
Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'
techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say
Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 5 The inventor of the Facebook 'like' button says he never made a 'dislike' button because he feared the 'unfortunate consequences'
Ukraine crisis: Donetsk 'tactical missile' explosion at factory sends blast wave across rebel-held city
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Oscar de la Renta dead: Legendary US fashion designer dies after long cancer battle aged 82
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
Super-sized ships arrive in Britain: How big can they get?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments
£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job * This is a new post...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Head of English requi...