The House of Lords has been told that the ban on hunting with dogs violates the human rights of the thousands of people whose livelihood revolved around the meet and the chase.
Richard Gordon, QC, has launched the latest legal challenge to the 2004 Hunting Act. He told the Lords: ‘There are many for whom hunting is a core part of their lives and the rural communities in which they live. The social network of many individuals is made up entirely of those who hunt. The ban jeopardises their social life, working life and family life.’
It is expected that, eventually, up to 8,000 people will lose their jobs as a result of the ban, which, said Mr Gordon, was a ‘disproportionate’ interference with the rights of individuals.
Citing Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which states that individuals should have a private and family life, Mr Gordon argued that individuals should also be able to lead a way of life of their own choosing.
This case has been brought by the Countryside Alliance and several individuals whose lives have already been affected by the ban, which prohibits fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing with dogs in England and Wales.
Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: ‘We have always believed that the Hunting Act is a prejudiced piece of legislation, which is entirely unjustifiable. The Act breaches the human rights of the people who hunt and contravenes EU legislation without any justification in terms of animal welfare.’
However, Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, has previously said in a statement that ‘The League is opposed to all cruelty to animals in the name of sport and the law now reflects that human beings cannot engage in cruelty in the name of entertainment.’
The House of Lords has already rejected one appeal, which argued that the Parliament Act that was used to force through the Hunting Act was unconstitutional. It will hear arguments for this appeal until 18 October.