Mark Hankinson, former director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, previously sentenced for teaching hunts how to break the law, has successfully appealed the decision.

In the original judgment, the Judge described Hankinson and others as using exemptions as ‘a sham and a mirage’ designed to let them carry on with ‘old-fashioned illegal hunting’. However, HHJ Perrins has now ruled that while Hankinson’s words were capable of encouraging hunts to break the Hunting Act, he couldn’t be satisfied that the evidence met the threshold to prove that was Hankinson’s intention. He therefore quashed the conviction.

However, the crucial question is not whether Mr. Hankinson intended to encourage hunts to break the law but whether the new ruling is seen by the National Trust as a reason to reverse its ban. We suspect it is being lobbied to do so at this very moment.