At the cost hearing of the Grove & Rufford Hunting Act defence case on Friday 27th April the judge announced that the entire cost of £57,786 be awarded against the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the failure to disclose photographic evidence.

Three members of the Nottinghamshire based Grove and Rufford Hunt were convicted in March 2017 of hunting a wild mammal with dogs but all three members were later acquitted on appeal on 15 March 2018 after it was revealed that the prosecution failed to show 50 photographs that contained clear evidence that supported the defendants case that they were all hunting legally.

At Nottingham Crown Court the judge demanded that the transcript of the hearing to be sent to the police and the CPS so an investigation could be carried out into improper admission of evidence. This is a landmark case as it is the first time the court has been known to award the entire costs against the CPS.

The Countryside Alliance’s Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: “This is a shocking case where photographic evidence which clearly supported the defence case was not disclosed. Three people were initially convicted on charges which should probably never have been brought, and have had to spend many months clearing their names.

“The Countryside Alliance has serious concerns that this is not an isolated miscarriage of justice. Many cases involving hunts are brought on evidence provided by anti-hunt activists, and some are even prosecuted by anti-hunt groups. The courts can have no idea whether evidence is being properly disclosed when dealing with such deeply partial witnesses, investigators and prosecutors.”