Letter: Blood sports and the law makers

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The Independent Online
Sir: 'The Government,' says the Labour MP Elliot Morley (Letters, 12 February), 'is going to make trespass by hunt protesters a criminal offence.' Actually, the proposed offence of aggravated trespass will only catch saboteurs who trespass with the intention of obstructing, disrupting, or intimidating. Peaceful protest will not be

affected.

The measures have been introduced as much to protect the angler, shooter or racegoer as the hunt follower from unpleasant disruption to their sports. Yet again, Labour shows itself to be unsympathetic to the views of rural communities, instead of championing the rural offender.

As to Mr Morley's comment about Mr Justice Laws' ruling that Somerset County Council's ban on stag-hunting was unlawful, the judge said that the council's decision 'was not based on any judgement that the (deer) herd would be better preserved . . . by a prohibition on hunting'. Furthermore, the council made 'no trace of a considered judgement as to the effect which the ban would have on the management of the herd, or how the deer were to be conserved in the light of it'.

On this issue Mr Morley and his colleagues cannot justify banning us or turning us into criminals until they show that the animals they claim to defend will, in fact, be better off without country sports.

It is not enough to say that the hunting ban should have stayed because the public wished it, even if that ban was unlawful. Are we to make laws by opinion polls, and would Mr Morley be so quick to invoke the public's view on the issue of capital punishment? What matters is the future welfare of the red deer herd in the West Country. Ironically, it was the council's failure to consider that issue which made its decision unlawful.

Yours faithfully,

NICK HERBERT

Political Adviser

British Field Sports Society

London, SE1

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