The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I have had advice from the Magistrates' Association on the subject of hunting with dogs. Magistrates who own land over which the hunt may pass will have no difficulty if the hunt has stated that it will operate within the law. If, however, the hunt has announced its intention to break the law then we must not permit them to use our land for that purpose. So that's all right then. This assumes of course that a hunt which is prepared to defy the law against hunting will meticulously avoid trespassing.

Personally, I am agnostic on hunting. I have no wish to take part myself, but I would not prevent others from doing so. It is going to be very difficult for police to gather evidence - their horses and motorcycles are unsuitable for jumping gates, and the hunt would quickly lose them. Taxpayers might have something to say if a £600 per hour helicopter spends all day following the hunt. Judicially, it will be a nightmare for magistrates in hunting areas. The prosecution will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was hunting a mammal with dogs, and that he meant to do so. Evidence of identification will be needed - a notoriously tricky area of law and one that every magistrate will be very wary about. How do we differentiate between exercising dogs that happen upon a fox and a hunt? No doubt anti-hunters will try to video proceedings, but even professional high-resolution cameras in towns often fail to produce footage that is good enough to use in evidence. What chance is there for a breathless amateur using a domestic camcorder? Hunters will brief top quality advocates who will pounce on every flaw in the prosecution case.

Ealing, with its large houses and generous gardens is home to many foxes but no hunts have sprung up to control them so far as I am aware, so I am most unlikely ever to see such a case. I very much doubt whether there will be a single conviction in 2005.