Hunt case judge Mr Justice Ross Cranston has stepped down from a High Court bid to ban hunting protestors.

Crawley and Horsham Hunt was seeking an injunction to protect its members from harassment it claims they received from the West Sussex Wildlife Protection group.

The hunt (on behalf of 88 landowners) had hoped to prevent activists gaining access to almost 100,000 acres of West Sussex countryside under the Protection from Harassment Act.

The case was adjourned when Mr Justice Ross Cranston removed himself due to anti-hunting statements he had made as an MP for Dudley North.

In December 2000, the then Labour politician described fox-hunting as ‘not a sport, but a barbaric and cruel activity’. Hunt lawyer Tim Lawson-Cruttenden argued in court that public statements such as this risked tainting any judgement with the appearance of bias.

The legal costs of the hearing, the first of a scheduled four-day case, amounted to several thousand pounds and will be met from public funds.

The case has been put back to October at the earliest after Mr Justice Ross Cranston had to step down from the High Court hunt case.

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