Huntsman Richard Down and whipper-in Adrian Pillivant, from the Quantock Staghounds, have today been convicted of illegally hunting deer with hounds at Bristol Magistrates Court.

Video footage of two hounds chasing deer in Somerset was cited as evidence that illegal hunting was taking place, and although the defendants argued that what they were doing was within the law, District Judge David Parsons said their argument was ‘disingenuous’. He said that in his eyes their hunting was not exempt, and that their belief that their hunting was exempt was ‘not reasonable.’ Both men were fined £500 plus £1000 each towards costs.

Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart said: ‘Since the Hunting Act came into force the Quantock Staghounds have acted entirely responsibly. They consulted legal experts, the hunting authorities and the police. This judgement contrasts with all their interpretations of the Act.

‘One the day in question they hunted with two hounds, as stipulated by the act and ensured there were experienced guns in place to shoot the deer they flush as soon as possible. They shot six deer. If this is not flushing to guns I don’t know what is.’

He then called for the Hunting Act to be repealed: ‘The Hunting Act is a bad law and needs to be got rid of,’ he concluded.