Hunting Ban overturned?

February 19, 2009

criminal law

DPP v. Wright [2009] EWHC 105 (Admin)

The case concerned the conviction of a huntsman (Anthony Wright) who was fined £500 after being convicted by magistrates for hunting foxes with dogs contrary to section 1 of the 2004 Hunting Act.

Although the Hunting Act 2004 purported to ban the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, it was not an absolute ban and therefore did leave open the possibility that farmers and others could use dogs as a form of pest control on wild mammals. What the court was left to decide in this case was whether Wright’s actions constituted one of the exempt forms of hunting.

The court decided that to impose a legal burden on the defendant to disprove s.1 (the definitional and exemptions part of the Act) “would be an oppressive, disproportionate, unfair and unnecessary intrusion upon the presumption of innocence in article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” instead they stated that only an evidential burden would exist on the defendant. Given this, there was enough factual evidence to suggest that steps had been taken to comply with the Act and Wright’s conviction, and the subsequent appeal from the DPP were overturned.

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About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

View all posts by Kris

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