Monday, May 31, 2004

DATE: 28 / 05 / 04; For immediate release


Campaigners against hunting wild mammals with dogs today welcomed the decision by the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh to turn down an appeal that claimed the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 was incompatible with the European
Convention on Human Rights.

The law that bans hunting with dogs in Scotland came into effect two years ago, and bans fox hunting, mink hunting and hare hunting and coursing.

Months were spent debating the Bill, and the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Law Officers subsequently certified that the Act was compatible with the European Convention.

Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports states "This confirmation sets a clear example for the House of Commons. There are no human rights grounds to prevent a ban. The Government's Hunting Bill should be reintroduced as soon as possible so that England and Wales can play 'catch up' with Scotland."

Ross Minett, Director of Advocates for Animals said "We believe that hunting is cruel and unnecessary and MSPs were fully justified in following their constituents' wish to ban it. The will of the Scottish Parliament was always clear on this issue, and this has been reflected by the judge's decision today. We look forward to the continued and thorough enforcement of the law."

Phyllis Campbell-McRae, Director of IFAW UK said "We are pleased by today's ruling, but not surprised. Whether it is in Scotland, England or Wales, there is no human right to be cruel to animals. We now look forward to the early reintroduction of legislation to outlaw this barbaric practice throughout the rest of Britain."

Commenting on the ECHR compliance with the Act, Rabinder Singh QC of Matrix Chambers said: "There is no right in that Convention to inflict cruelty upon animals. In so far as any right in the Convention may be applicable at all, any interference with it would be justifiable in the public interest." Today's judgment confirms this view.

A poll conducted by MORI Scotland in September 2000 showed that approximately 7 out of 10 Scots are opposed to hunting with dogs. Overall the poll found that 67% of those polled were opposed to hunting with dogs compared to 10% in favour of hunting with dogs.


For further information contact:

Liam Slattery, League Against Cruel Sports 020
7089 5217
Ross Minett, Advocates for Animals 0131 225 6039
Lis Key, IFAW 020 7587 6708 / 07801 613531

Notes to Editors:
Advocates for Animals, the International Fund for
Animal Welfare (IFAW) and
the League Against Cruel Sports campaigned
together throughout the progress
of the Bill as the Scottish Campaign Against
Hunting with Dogs (SCAHD).

The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act outlaws the cruel and barbaric sport of chasing and killing foxes, hare and mink with dogs. Independent legal advice has confirmed that banning hunting with dogs does not infringe human rights.

The petitioners against the Act contested that the Act was in breach of ECHR on the following grounds:

" The right to respect for family and private life (Article 8). However, hunting with dogs takes place in public as a leisure pursuit. The Act does not take away their liberty to ride horses, or to go drag hunting, but merely prevents them from chasing and killing
live quarry. " The right to freedom from discrimination (Article 14). However, the Act is not discriminatory; it applies to each citizen in Scotland equally. The aim of the Act was to end the cruelty of hunting foxes, hare and mink with dogs, in much the same way as previous legislation was enacted in Scotland to ban badger baiting, otter hunting and hunting deer with dogs. " The right to protection of property and possessions (Article 1
of Protocol 1). However, the ban on live quarry hunting need not deprive anyone of property or possessions. There is no prohibition on keeping horses or hounds, and the
petitioners remain free to ride their horses, go drag hunting or engage in any number of humane country pursuits. " The right to freedom of association (Article 11). The Act does not prevent people from associating, merely from doing a certain act. The petitioners can still associate, for other legal activities.

MORI Poll 12 Sep 2000:

The decision by Lord Nimmo Smith can be viewed at:

A recent article by Rabinder Singh QC which states that the current Hunting Bill to cover England and Wales is ECHR compliant. Available at

Yours sincerely
Advocates for Animals
10 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK,
Tel: +44 (0) 131 225 6039
Fax: +44 (0) 131 220 6377