‘NO CASE TO ANSWER’

On 17 June, ITV News reporter Rupert Evelyn tweeted that John Oliver Finnegan was to appear in court on 20 June. He faced charges of hunting contrary to the Hunting Act during a Quorn Hunt meet at Belton, Leicestershire, on 11 January.

But an update by Evelyn on 20 June said Finnegan’s case was “dismissed”. The reporter clarified that “Despite being summoned to appear in court the CPS brought no evidence and as such no case to answer.”

Responding to the news, Cheshire Animal Rights Campaign described the outcome as an “injustice”.

DAY OF CHAOS

Activity by the Quorn Hunt’s activities on the day in question were reported by Evelyn following the incident. On 14 January, Evelyn tweeted that a Leicester Police officer was left with a “bloody nose” when attending reports of illegal fox hunting. The Hunt Saboteurs Association claimed Finnegan had struck the officer with his elbow. And on 8 February, Evelyn tweeted that on the same day the Quorn Hunt’s hounds coursed through the grounds of a primary school.

However, neither of these incidents appear to have led to legal action. Finnegan appeared at Leicester Magistrates Court on just one count of illegal hunting.

NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME

Finnegan, who has recently moved to the Cheshire Hunt, has faced numerous accusations of aggressive behaviour and illegal hunting. Most prominently, he stood trial alongside whipper-in Rhys Matcham in August 2021 for illegal hunting. Footage by the League Against Cruel Sports captured during a Quorn Hunt meet near Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire, on 4 February 2020 showed a fox leaving a covert as hounds entered it. But the trial collapsed after League investigator Roger Swaine admitted he couldn’t ascertain where Matcham was looking as the fox left the covert.

Matcham is also currently facing charges of illegal hunting as part of the Beaufort Hunt.

However, the fumbled case against Finnegan is a reminder that we cannot rely on the legal system to hold hunts accountable.

If you’d like to support or join your local sab group, please check out the Hunt Saboteurs Association’s map of local groups. Or consider donating to Keep The Ban as we continue campaigning against the hunting industry.

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