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Huntsmen 'blatantly ignored new laws as 20 deer chased'.

Two huntsmen "blatantly" ignored new banning laws by leading a hunt on National Trust land, a court heard yesterday.

Quantock Staghounds leader Richard Down and whipper-in Adrian Pillivant are accused of jointly hunting wild deer with dogs during a meet at Longstone Hill, Somerset, in February last year.

Video footage showing 20 deer being chased through the Quantock hills was produced by the League Against Cruel Sports.

The league, which is leading the private prosecution at Taunton Magistrates' Court, say the men failed to recognise the "simple" law which has made prolonged pursuit illegal.

Richard Furlong, representing the league, said: "They made no attempt to call the dogs off.

"The facts of this case are that no reasonable person could have believed this was exempt from the hunting act.

"They made no attempt to control the dogs.

"This is a very simple act - find, flush and shoot.

"This case showed no sign of find, flush and shoot. Mr Down and Mr Pillivant knew it."

Down, 37, and Pillivant, 44, whose addresses were listed at Kennel Lane, Bagbrough, Somerset, both deny breaching Section 1 of the Hunting Act, drawn up in 2004.

The league filmed the event after finding out about the meet through the local press.

Witness Edmund Shepherd, the league member who filmed the hunt, said the pair made no efforts to pull back their hounds during the chase.

He said he heard two gunshots go off more than two hours after the hunt began.

Down and Pillivant were supported by more than 12 Quantock Staghound members on horseback.

Mr Shepherd said: "I would expect someone to get very near the hounds and loudly shout and clap to get them to move away.

"This was not done. One rider made a halfhearted attempt to call the hounds away as she rode past our Land Rover." Speaking outside court, Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said Down and Pillivant will try to prove their actions were exempt under the new restrictions.

Mr Hart said: "It is the Hunting Act that is really on trial here - we are still no nearer a proper understanding of what the law actually means."

The trial was adjourned until today.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 22, 2007
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