Quantocks Staghounds huntsman, Richard Down, was acquitted of a Hunting Act charge at Taunton Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday 13 November.

Richard Down, 54, was accused of hunting a red deer with dogs, on January 20, on the Quantocks Hills. Judge David Taylor found Mr Down not guilty saying the evidence presented by the Crown Prosecution Service was ‘circumstantial’. In addition to this the judge also threw out another case against a member of the hunt, Martin Watts.

The evidence was provided by the League Against Cruel Sports and included footage which they alleged showed red deer being hunted by a pack of hounds led by Mr Down. However, Mr Down insisted he was trail-hunting using 15 hounds.

Defending Mr Down, Peter Glenser QC said: “Mr Down was aware he had members of the public and members of anti-hunt campaign groups watching him that day.

“To behave in the way the prosecution is saying would have been reckless and ridiculous and to behave in such a flagrantly unlawful way does not make any sense at all.”

A Countryside Alliance spokesperson commented: “We are delighted with the result. However, such a spurious allegation should not have gone this far. These constant and unfounded allegations made by animal rights activists result in hundreds of hours of wasted police time which is totally unacceptable.”