Northumberland huntsmen on trial 'encouraged hounds to chase fox' court hears

Three members of the College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt, including the Joint Master and Huntsman, are on trial

Ian McKie, Andrew Proe and right Timothy Wyndham Basil Smalley
Ian McKie, Andrew Proe and right Timothy Wyndham Basil Smalley

Three leaders of a Northumberland hunt encouraged their hounds to ignore a laid scent and chase foxes instead, a court heard.

Joint Master Timothy Wyndham Basil Smalley, huntsman Ian Robert McKie and kennel huntsman Andrew John Proe, are each charged with two counts of hunting a wild mammal with dogs, contrary to Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004.

The trio were filmed secretly during a meet of the College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt in Kyloe near Lowick on Thursday, February 27, by members of animal rights charity the League Against Cruel Sports.

Prosecuting at Berwick Magistrates Court, Jonathan Moore said: “There were two separate incidents of hunting of a fox.

“The defendants throughout the course of their interviews say they were trail hunting and not carrying out the pursuit of a fox. But there is footage taken which shows hunting foxes with dogs.”

The court watched two filmed incidents of foxes bolting out of gorse and allegedly being chased by dogs.

Mr Moore said: “This matter is a question of fact.

“In relation to the actions of Mr McKie, Mr Smalley and Mr Proe, does it amount to hunting a wild animal with dogs? The Crown says it does.”

McKie, 56, of Wooler, Proe, 52, of Cornhill-on-Tweed, and Smalley, 53, of Lowick, deny all charges.

They claim the foxes were simply disturbed during the course of the legal trail hunt.

The trial, which began on Monday, is due to last two days.

The Hunting Act came into force in February 2005 and outlawed fox hunting.

In trail hunting a rag soaked in fox urine is dragged across a route and the dogs must pick up the scent to follow it.


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