||[Feb. 16th, 2005|09:50 am]
Judges reject hunting challenge
Hunt supporters have lost their latest legal appeal against the law banning hunting with dogs in England and Wales.
The Countryside Alliance had claimed the 1949 Parliament Act, which MPs used to introduce the Hunting Act after House of Lords opposition, is invalid.
The Appeal Court ruled against them - meaning the ban will start on Friday.
The RSPCA said the judges' decision shows the group's arguments are "wafer thin", but the alliance vowed to fight on and said hunting would continue.
Pro-hunt groups say the ban is unenforceable, but both the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA say they will help police to monitor the hunts.
On Saturday hunting will look, sound and smell exactly the same as it always did
What is the Parliament Act?
Hunt ban support 'declining'
The Countryside Alliance was appealing against a High Court ruling on 28 January stating that the 1949 Act was clearly valid.
On Wednesday three Appeal Court judges described the challenge as "unusual, and in modern times probably unprecedented".
But they upheld the January ruling and threw out the appeal.
They also refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords, saying it would cast too much uncertainty over the status of the Hunting Act.
The alliance said it will make an urgent application directly to the House of Lords to hear their appeal.
Speaking after the judgement, Simon Hart, of the alliance, accepted the ban would go ahead on Friday.
If we find criminal conspiracies to break the law then we will tell the police
League Against Cruel Sports
But he said hunting would "look, sound and smell exactly the same" on Saturday because the police would not be able to enforce the law.
The alliance has said about 50,000 people are prepared to break the ban and continue hunting "in the full knowledge they will be arrested".
But the League Against Cruel Sports says it is setting up a "crimewatch service" to monitor the ban.
The league's chief executive, Douglas Batchelor, said: "If we find criminal conspiracies to break the law then we will tell the police."
And RSCPA spokeswoman Becky Hawkes said they would also assist the police in bringing prosecutions.