South Scotland

Men on Borders fox-hunting charge acted 'within legislation'

Jedburgh Sheriff Court Image copyright Google
Image caption Mr Richardson told the court that he and his son were simply doing their job

Two huntsmen accused of breaching Scotland's fox-hunting laws were acting within the current legislation, it has been claimed at Jedburgh Sheriff Court.

John Clive Richardson, 66, and his son Johnny Riley, 24, are charged with deliberately hunting a fox with hounds at a Borders farm.

They both deny committing the offence near Jedburgh in February 2016.

Mr Richardson told the court they had been doing their job and had done it within the law.

The case centres on a video shot by two investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports on the activities of the Jedforest Hunt members and shows the fox being dug out of a hole and then chased by a pack of hounds.

The fox disappears out of sight of the video into a deep gulley with the hounds in pursuit.

The law states a fox can be flushed by dogs from cover to waiting guns, but the two investigators have already given evidence saying they saw no gunmen or heard any shots.

Missed shot

However, Mr Richardson told a trial at Jedburgh Sheriff Court that there was a gunman in the gulley who wounded the fox with a shot before it was "accounted for" by the hounds.

He said that gunman Malcolm Henderson had been put in position in a deep gulley which was out of sight of the video being secretly filmed.

Mr Richardson also took over a shotgun when another man had to leave and was about 35 yards from Mr Henderson but missed with his shot.

He said: "I heard the shot and I knew he hit it. The hounds then accounted for it.

"If he had not hit it they would not have caught it as foxes can run twice as fast as hounds."

Mr Richardson told the court the hounds had been used to flush out the foxes and "evict them towards the gun".

"We were doing a job and doing it within the legislation we are allowed to work in," he said.

Lambing season

The huntsman - who first got involved in fox control as a teenager - said farmers often witnessed their pest control service to ensure they were working within the law as they would not want to be associated with any illegal activity on their land.

He said that foxes had been prevalent in the area and, with the lambing season coming up, the farmer wanted them controlled.

Mr Richardson said he was "not in the slightest aware of being observed" by the two investigators but even if he had been he would have carried on doing the same regardless.

He said: "It is not the first time we have been monitored before. We just carry on doing our job."

Mr Richardson and Mr Riley, of Abbotrule, Bonchester Bridge, deny breaching the Wild Mammals Protection (Scotland) Act 2002 at Townfoothill near Jedburgh.

The trial continues.

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