Former Fitzwilliam Huntsman George Adams has lost his appeal against his conviction for illegal hunting in Peterborough.
Adams, who has now retired from hunting, was convicted of using hounds to kill a fox at a trial at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court last year.
He launched an appeal against that conviction - but yesterday Judge Matthew Cooper announced he had dismissed the appeal.
During the trial he claimed the hounds were used to flush out the fox for a bird of prey, and said the Fitzilliam Hunt always acted within the law.
Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs welcomed the decision, and said: “We are clearly very happy with the decision to uphold the conviction of George Adams that we achieved back in April last year. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the prosecution team, in particular the excellent David Matthew QC who performed admirably against the defence who persisted in attempts to discredit the witnesses and ambushing the court with last minute legal claims and the questionable addition of their own so-called expert witness, a computer forensics expert with no background in animal sciences.”
The anti-hunting protesters also said they hoped it would change how hunts continue to operate.
They said: “We hope this finally signals the end of the Bird of Prey or Falconry exemption within the Hunting Act. Other hunts which use this loophole will now have to reconsider their options as they will no longer be considered to be taking part in exempt hunting just by having someone with a bird of prey present. The use of birds of prey alongside hunting with hounds is not, and never was falconry. There are serious welfare issues for the raptors used in this manner alongside the abhorrent cruelty involved in setting 1 or 30 animals against another. Judge Cooper, in summing up stated; “Something significant” must change in the planning and training of the hounds and the characteristics of hunts in the future if they don’t want to be charged with illegal hunting”.
“We will continue to actively target all hunts in an effort to stop their abuse of our wildlife with all and every means at our disposal. The Hunting Act is in desperate need of strengthening, all the loopholes should be closed and hunting with dogs finally consigned to history. We will continue to work towards that end but in the mean time you will find us, and all hunt sabs standing up to defend our wildlife in the fields no matter what violence, abuse and intimidation we face.”
During the original trial, the court heard how the fox was killed by the dogs on New Years’ Day 2016 in a field near Peterborough.
Adams denied the charge, saying the hunt was using dogs to flush the fox out of cover to allow a Golden Eagle to catch the mammal.
Adams was fined £1,000 and was ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge and £930 costs following the original conviction.
After the appeal, he was ordered to pay £11,332 costs.
The Peterborough Telegraph has contacted The Fitzwilliam Hunt for comment.