AN animal charity has blasted the law on fox hunting after a case was dropped due to “insufficient” evidence.

The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said the “complex loopholes” in anti-hunt laws mean it is almost “impossible” to prosecute a case.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said she saw a fox being chased by a pack of dogs across a Scottish Borders field in November 2018 in what was allegedly a breach of the 2002 rule outlawing hunting with dogs.

The politician had been invited to witness the Lauderdale hunt by the League Against Cruel Sports and later commented that she was “in no doubt that the current law is failing to protect our wildlife”.

That law states that hounds can only be used to flush foxes into the open to allow their shooting for pest-control purposes. However, those calling for a rethink say this does not work in practice and human error or deliberate action can see packs of dogs left to chase the wild animals.

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Footage from Lauderdale was reported to the police last winter as a potential breach of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, but no action will now be taken due to insufficient evidence.

Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said: “We are extremely disappointed that the evidence, which in our view clearly illustrated a blatant breach of the law, has been deemed insufficient.

“This is one more example of Scotland’s hunting legislation being so full of complex loopholes that securing a prosecution is nigh on impossible. The latest debacle is just another nail in the coffin for a hopeless hunt law.”

“It is staggering that even when an MSP watches a pack of hounds chasing a fox over the Scottish countryside and a huntsman is charged, that the present law is so useless that the fiscal has no option but to drop the case.”

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Last month Johnstone launched a public consultation on her draft bill which proposes tightening hunt laws. This will end in September and, commenting on the Lauderdale hunt, Johnstone said: “I was left in no doubt that the current law is failing to protect our wildlife. Hunting with dogs was meant to have been banned in Scotland in 2002, but this clearly has not worked.”

Speaking in March, Sara Shaw of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service told MSPs the agency is “committed to tackling wildlife crime”, stating: “There is a strong presumption in favour of prosecution in cases that are reported to us when there is sufficient admissible evidence and it is in the public interest to raise the prosecution. Where we can, we will.”