Ten years ago (18 November) the Hunting Act 2004 was forced through Parliament and three months later, on 18 February 2005 it became law. Those opposed to hunting thought that would be the end, that the hunting community would give in and tail off to take up other, less contentious pastimes. But they had seriously underestimated those who live and work in the countryside.
A decade on, practically every hunt that was operating when the Act was passed is still going strong and they are all still determined to overthrow this illogical, badly drafted and unfair law.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said: “The determination of hunts, and the continued support of the wider rural community, has ensured that hunting is still thriving 10 years after the Hunting Act was passed, but the law has proved just as unworkable, pointless and wasteful as we predicted.
“A law which was passed because of MPs’ obsession with fox hunting has been used almost exclusively to prosecute poachers. A law which was supposed to be about animal welfare has not reduced suffering or stopped foxes being killed. A law which was supposed to be ‘straightforward and enforceable’ has continued to create confusion in the courts and waste hundreds of hours of police time.
“This is a remarkable law in that it seems that absolutely no-one concerned is happy with it. The Prime Minister when it was passed admits it was one of his biggest mistakes; the courts have called it ‘confusing’, and ‘far from simple to interpret or apply’; the police dread having to investigate politically motivated allegations; hunts have to operate under ridiculous restrictions which mean they are at risk of prosecution every time they open the kennel gates; and now even the anti-hunting organisations who wrote the legislation are calling for wholesale changes.
“There is only one sensible solution to this mess and that is to get rid of the Hunting Act. This issue will never be resolved until we have legislation based on evidence and principle, rather than prejudice and political point scoring.”