THE Law Lords today threw out the latest challenges to the ban on hunting with dogs when they ruled that the Hunting Act did not contravene any human rights.

The House of Lords, the highest court in the land, rejected an appeal two years ago in which the pro-hunt lobby claimed that the Parliament Act, used to force through the Hunting Act, was unconstitutional.

Today Lords Bingham, Hope, Rodger and Brown and Baroness Hale dismissed a second challenge by the Countryside Alliance and other campaigners to the lawfulness of the Hunting Act.

The same panel of Law Lords also dismissed an appeal from the Scottish courts by Brian Friend and Jeremy Whaley, both members of the Union of Country Sports Workers.

They also claimed that the ban, introduced in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals Act, is an infringement of their human rights.

Lord Bingham, the former Lord Chief Justice who headed the panel of Law Lords, said in his ruling: "Fox hunting in this country is an emotive and divisive subject. For some it is an activity deeply embedded in the tradition, life and culture of the countryside, richly portrayed in art and literature, a highly cherished, skilful, healthy and useful form of communal outdoor exercise.

"Others find the pursuit of a small animal across the countryside until it is caught and destroyed by hounds to be abhorrent."

He said the House of Lords had never given its consent to the Hunting Act but they were a judicial committee who had to give their views without reference to their personal sympathies.

The Countryside Alliance, along with various individuals, claimed at a hearing last month that the Act - which prohibits fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing with dogs in England and Wales - violates the fundamental human rights of thousands of people whose livelihood and way of life revolve around the meet and the chase.

Between 6,000 and 8,000 were expected eventually to lose their jobs, and many would also lose the homes that went with the jobs, the Law Lords were told. Others would lose businesses and the commercial "goodwill" attached to them.

In tomorrow's Worcester News: Grandmother tells how she watched in horror as a fox was torn apart by hounds in her garden.