The Countryside Alliance is writing to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC, MP about the prosecution of three members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds after Avon and Somerset CPS informed the defendants’ solicitor that it would consult the League Against Cruel Sports before deciding whether to continue with the prosecution.
Devon and Somerset Staghounds huntsman Donald Summersgill and masters David Greenwood and Rupert Andrews have pleaded not guilty to all charges relating to allegations of two Hunting Act offences in September and October 2013.
They were represented by solicitor James Griffin at a hearing at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Friday 13 June where the CPS estimated that the court would need eight days to hear the case which would be likely to cost well over £100,000. The next hearing will take place in Yeovil on 29 July.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance, said: “We will be asking the Attorney General to look at Avon and Somerset CPS’s conduct of this case. It has never been clear what evidence the CPS thinks it has, but relying on the advice of a pressure group is quite disgraceful and can only lead to further abuse of the criminal justice system and waste of public money.
“Avon and Somerset CPS has already presided over two disastrous prosecutions based on LACS evidence involving Weston and Banwell Harriers master George Milton and now seems determined to waste even more time and money on this prosecution (see notes below).
“It is the CPS’s role to make an independent judgment on the merits of evidence provided by the police. There should be no role for pressure groups in that process and the fact that the CPS is relying on such input reveals exactly why it is making such bad decisions. We welcome the suggestion that the CPS carries out a high level review of this prosecution and hope that it brings a halt to this process as soon as possible.”
For further information, contact Countryside Alliance head of media Charlotte Cooper on 0207 8409220 or email [email protected] or director of campaigns Tim Bonner
on 07977 460811
Notes for reporters
• LACS has been engaged in what amounts to little more than a campaign of harassment against the Weston and Banwell Harriers and its huntsman George Milton. It has carried out dozens of sophisticated covert surveillance operations over several years targeting Mr Milton and made a series of allegations under the Hunting Act and other legislation. On 8 April 2013 Taunton Magistrates found there was no case to answer against Mr Milton in the latest case. It was the second time he had been cleared of illegal hunting allegations in court, but he has also been charged with other offences which were dropped before they even got to trial. Last year’s case involved 18 months of work by the police and court before it was dropped (http://www.countryside-alliance.org/ca/campaigns-hunting/hunting-act-case-collapses ).