South Scotland

Borders fox-hunting trial shown video footage

Video evidence showing a fox being dug out of a hole and then chased by a pack of hounds has been described as "appalling" at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

Witnesses said it proved "traditional" fox hunting was still going on despite legislation introduced 15 years ago.

Father and son John Clive Richardson, 66, and Johnny Riley, 24, of the Jedforest Hunt, deny deliberately hunting a fox with hounds last year.

The offence is alleged to have taken place near Jedburgh in February 2016.

An investigator from the League Against Cruel Sports gave the court his verdict on two videos filming the activities of the Jedforest Hunt at Townfoothill Farm.

Peter Cross filmed the incident on a video camera from a distance of 650 metres along with fellow investigator Terence Hill after they both set an observation point for a covert operation.

The footage captured a fox being chased into the earth by the hounds and then a man spending more than 20 minutes digging a hole to locate the fox.

'Illegal act'

The law says the fox should be dispatched or killed by a hand pistol or shotgun.

However, the footage showed the fox being released from the hole and immediately pursued by the hounds.

The fox went out of sight behind a land ridge - a blind spot for the cameramen - and its fate could not be confirmed.

Mr Cross told the court: "What we have witnessed there is in direct contradiction of the Masters of Foxhounds Association rules.

"It is not only an illegal act but I think their governing body would like to have words about their behaviour too.

"If it is known a fox is in the earth they can be dug down and dispatched with a pistol if the farmer requires pest control."

Referring to the hounds chasing the fox he said: "It is just not necessary to do that to a fox. Personally I find it appalling."

The trial of the pair, both from Abbotrule, Bonchester Bridge, continues.

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