Three members of a North East hunt are to go on trial accused of illegal fox hunting.
Joint masters of the College Valley and North Northumberland hunt - former champion jockey Ian Robert McKie, 56, from Wooler and Timothy Wyndham Basil Smalley 54, from Berwick - and kennel huntsman Andrew John Proe, from Mindrum, have all denied charges of hunting a wild mammal with dogs.
The case against the three is based on evidence supplied by the League Against Cruel Sports and investigations by Northumbria Police into an alleged incident at an advertised hunt meet at West Kyloe Farm, near Lowick in Northumberland on February 27 2014.
The three men pleaded not guilty at an appearance in Berwick Magistrates’ Court on July 17, and they will now face a trial - scheduled to last two days - on October 13 and 14. Campaigns director for the Countryside Alliance, Tim Bonner said he was confident that the trio would be exonerated.
“The College Valley and North Northumberland have been hunting legally since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005,” he said.
“We are confident that the three defendants will be found not guilty as was the only other huntsman charged in relation to a Hunting Act in the North East in 2009.”
Then Robert McCarthy, a huntsman with the Alnwick-based Percy Hunt, which has links to the Duke of Northumberland, walked free when his case was dismissed mid-trial due to insufficient evidence - a move the Countryside Alliance claimed at the time left the Hunting Act “in tatters.”