A FATHER and son have gone on trial at Jedburgh Sheriff Court accused of breaching Scotland's fox hunting legislation.

John Clive Richardson, who is 66, and 24-year-old Johnny Riley from the Jedforest Hunt deny deliberately hunting a fox with hounds - which has been illegal in Scotland since the introduction of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002.

A video filmed by an investigator from the League Against Cruel Sports was shown which it is alleged shows a breach of the Act.

The law allows hounds to flush a fox out of cover to waiting guns to be shot.

But the footage shows the foxhounds chasing the animal through gorse land and down a hole.

A male, described in court as a terrier man, put a terrier dog down the hole to locate the fox.

The terrier dog was then taken out of the hole and the male spends the next 20 minutes digging to reach the fox.

The law says the fox should then be dispatched or killed by a hand pistol or shotgun.

But the footage shows the fox being released from the hole and pursued again by the hounds.

The fox goes out of sight behind a land ridge before it is presumably caught by the hounds and torn to pieces.

League Against Cruel Sports investigator Terence Hill, 51, shot the video after setting up an observation point for a covert operation on gorse-covered land at Townfoothill near Jedburgh, on February 18 last year.

It shows huntsmen Richardson and Riley on horseback at the scene of the incident and in charge of the dogs.

Mr Hill - who has been observing hunts throughout the UK for the past 30 years - filmed the incident on a video camera from a distance of 650 metres.

He also claimed hunt members were calling and encouraging the hounds to chase the fox.

He said he saw one hunt member - in charge of the terriers - try to trip the fox up as it attempted to escape back down a hole.

During his evidence Mr Hill said: "There are far too many loopholes in the legislation just now. Flushing to guns is not happening.

"Traditional fox hunting is still going on."

No huntsmen has yet fallen foul of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, but two individuals have been convicted for hunting foxes with dogs and 10 for hare coursing.

The trial of Richardson and Riley of Abbotrule, Bonchester Bridge, continues.