Huntsman cleared of breaching fox ban

A huntsman was today cleared of breaking Scotland's fox hunting ban.

In what was considered a test case, Sheriff Kevin Drummond ruled Trevor Adams, 46, had not broken the law introduced in 2002.

Adams appeared at Jedburgh Sheriff Court charged with deliberately hunting a fox with 20 dogs at Courthill, near Kelso, Roxburghshire, on October 16, 2002.

The case was the first time someone had gone on trial for an alleged breach of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.

Adams, from Melrose in the Scottish Borders, is joint master of Scotland's largest hunt, the Buccleuch.

The sheriff's judgment was welcomed by pro-hunting campaigners.

Allan Murray, director of hunting and equestrian sports for the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said: "Trevor has always had our full support and we are very pleased that he has been vindicated.

"The hunting community in Scotland are a vital part of the rural economy and a necessary operation for farmers and landowners.

"We hope that they will continue to contribute to the rural community in this way for many years to come."

Buccleuch Foxhounds spokesman Joe Scott-Plummer added: "This confirms our belief that the fox control service that we have been offering landowners and farmers over the past two-and-a-half years has been undertaken within the bounds of the law as we and our advisers have interpreted it.

"All hunts in Scotland had to restructure as a result of the legislation and, in consultation with police forces, agreed a form of pest control permitted by the Act."

Outside the court, Mr Adams said: "I am very relieved by the sheriff's ruling."I have never been accused of a crime before.

"I am very glad that justice has prevailed and I am looking forward to getting on with my job, which is my life.

"I will continue in my job as huntsman and will continue to offer the pest control service the landowners and farmers have requested from us.

"I am personally very pleased that our interpretation of the new form of hunting has been supported by this judgment."

The legislation resulted from a Member's Bill brought to the Scottish Parliamentby Labour peer Mike Watson, who represents the Glasgow Cathcart consituency.

Under the legislation, hunts are banned from using packs of hounds to chase and kill foxes.But the dogs are still allowed to be used to flush out foxes towards people with guns to shoot them.

Earlier the trial heard that Mr Adams, a self-employed foxhounds master, was in charge of a group called the Fox Control Service which had offered its service to farmers.

Witness Ian Hutcheson, 50, a nearby tenant farmer, had refused them entry to his land at Courthill and called the police as he believed they were hunting illegally.

Today Sheriff Drummond said: "It was said that Parliament has indicated by the terms of this legislation that the shooting of foxes is promoted and the accused had taken care to comply.

"There was no deliberate hunting of a fox with dogs.

"The accused activity accordingly falls within the terms of Section 2 (2) and he is not guilty of the offence."

Livingston MSP Bristow Muldoon, who piloted the Bill through its final stages in the Scottish Parliament after Lord Watson was appointed a minister, refused to comment on the ruling.

The Labour backbencher said: "I wouldn't wish to comment on a court case that I have not followed and I don't think it's appropriate for politicians to do that.

"But certainly I will read closely the outcome of the case."

He added that "the overwhelming majority" of Scots and their elected representatives at Holyrood regarded the sport of hunting with hounds "a cruel practice".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...